Nam Kwan (1911-1990) was born in Chung-song, Kyung-buk, and moved to Japan when he was fourteen. He graduated from the Taiheiyo Art School and studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts in the 30s. After independence of Korea, Nam settled down in Seoul, and in 1947 he formed the Joseon Art and Culture Association with Lee Quede, Lee In-Sung and Lee Gyu-Sang. Their annual member exhibition’s showed remarkable ability and his first solo exhibition in Korea was held in 1949. Upon his return to Japan in the early 1950s, Nam was profoundly influenced by the first edition of the Japan International Art Exhibition (later to be referred to as the Tokyo Biennale) and the Salon de Me Tokyo exhibition in Paris, which were Nam had visited prompting him to go to France in 1954 to continue his studies.
In 1955, Nam entered l'Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and absorbed himself in abstract art. Nam was the first Korean artist to be invited to the Salon de mai and attended Galerie du Fleuve’s invitational exhibition. In 1966, he won the grand prize at Biennale de Peinture in Menton. In the same year, he held a solo exhibition in Seoul, and since 1968 has participated as a National Art Exhibition jury member and professor at Hongik University. Nam presented his works at the 1st Tokyo Art Expo in March 1990 leading to exhibition invitations all over the world. Acclaimed by world-renowned art critic Gaston Diehl, (France, 1912-1999) described Nam as "an almost unique artist who could blend the two without sacrificing any part of the East and West culture."
Nam’s unique style is expressed in a harmonious fusion of materials belonging to the ancient civilizations of the East via Western and modern methods. Nam focused the expression human integrity and value rather than visible things. Values such as human happiness or eternal life are interpreted as refined and sophisticated colors and human images are expressed in the shape of hieroglyphic characters.
Nam Kwan’s exhibition have been held in various art museums and galleries including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Tokyo Art Expo, Sao-Paulo Biennale and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. In 1942 and 1943 he won the Funoke Prize and Mitsui Prize in Japan and was honored at the Biennale de Peinture in Menton in 1966. In Korea, he was awarded the Chun-gok Art Prize in 1967.
Nam’s artworks are in the public collections of numerous institutions including the Musée National d’Art Moderne, France, thw Musée d'art moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, Torino Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Italy and the Museum of Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland