이소의 갤러리

 
  2005 제16회 개인전  전시 작품 갤러리
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전시서문전시작품

 

 The Symbolic Representation of the Plant-Insect-Flower in the Korean Painting - Flower and Butterfly

 

 

In the old tradition of color paintings, fine detailed brushworkand the representation of the state of mind were emphasized.Following this tradition, I had learned and practiced how to use glue, color powder, alum on the xuan paper, and various traditional color paints.

 

Ink is a profound material that requires a great deal of time and effort for one to get accustomed to.  Ink painting is a genre thatcan effectively enhance the use of ink and brush techniques.  This also provides an opportunity to understand the use of traditional colors and the unison of ink and colors.  I could see greater profoundness of ink painting from diverse use of colors between the thick and light, which led me to employ a delicate touch with even bright red.Since ink and color are inseparably related to each other, both techniques are essential for all painters to acquire.

 

In the early stage, I had worked on the traditional figurative color painting and ink painting simultaneously.  Then, I challenged the non-figurative (abstract) works the collage: first, I pasted the torn or crumbled color papers on the background and added a mix of crayon, pastel, gouache, acrylic, acrylic paints, and regular paints on it.  These attempts made me understand various media and pursue a balanced Korean style painting.  By working with such experimentation and explorations, I hope to express myself as freely as possible.

 

It was natural for me to choose the flower and butterfly as subjects.  Throughout my painting career, starting from traditional color painting through ink painting to non-figurative color painting, I have always found motifs from the nature.  I began to use such motifs from my appreciation of the grand beauty and seasonal changes of the Mother Nature.  While representing the festivity of nature, I realized that flower and butterfly are most suitable for the colorful non-figurative (abstract) painting.  In this regard, I have been working on the subject of vitality and aesthetic beauty of nature.

 

Major subjects in the paintings, such as magnolia, peony, and lotus, are mostly represented as mind images rather than as a feature.  Butterfly is no different.  Although different types of butterflies appear in the works, all are the representation of butterfly in mind.

 

Oriental paintings are for reading rather than seeing because there are many hidden symbols in them. For example, peony  the king of the flowers  represents wealth.  On the other hand, lotus represents decency, enlightenment, and a wise being.  Flowers have often been used in proposal and funeral settings, and they are generally portrayed in the form of buds, symbolized as virgins, or are used to depict a town as "Flower neighborhood."  Traditionally, people graded the appearance of the flowers and equated the flowers based on the social status of a person.  Moreover, they also ranked and equated a person's mind and character based on the type of flowers in his garden.

 

Butterfly represents exhilaration, happiness, freedom of love, love of beauty, and long-life.Thanks to "Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly" (莊周夢蝶)  from the chapter "On Arranging Things" (齊物論, the second part of the book) butterfly became the symbol of catharsis or emancipation.  Zhuang Zhou tells that he turned into a butterfly and felt the joy as he fluttered about in his dream.

 

Although the butterfly usually represents the mating between male and female, it also becomes "mao die tu (??圖)" when it is portrayed with the cat.In ancient China, the cat stands for the word "mao (?)" that means a person in his seventies, and the butterfly stands for the word "die (?)" that means a person in his eighties.The Chinese word for cat, "mao (猫)," sounds as same as the word for seventy year old man, "mao (?)."  Likewise, the Chinese word for butterfly, "die (蝶)" sounds as same as the word for eighty year old man, "die (?)."  Therefore, in this case a word that represents a pictorial image, forces one to recall an idea of a long life of an old man.  In another example, if there is an image of ivy, it suggests the meaning of prosperity and longevity.  This goes on to explain why "prayers for good fortune" among certain Asian societies is manifested in paintings as underlying themes through such images.  The word "qi yi (期?)" that means the age of one hundred seems to come into use in future.

 

The picture of flower and butterfly is the representation of wish for a pleasure in life, such as peaceful relationship in marriage, abundant offspring, and long-life.  It also implies the wish for a better after life and three major factors - longevity, happiness, and birth of boy.

 

In broad terms, animals, insects, worms, wild plants, vegetables, and fruits are included in the flower-and-bird painting.In other words,-bird painting implicitly reveals the law of the universe through flowers and bird and not solely limiting to their physical nature.

 

Korea has inherited the tradition of symbolic color system that is based on the yin and yang.  the five directions (east, west, south, north, center), the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), the first directional gods, the five tastes (sour, spicy, bitter, salty, sweet), the five organs (liver, lung, heart, kidney, spleen), five emotions (pleasure, anger, happiness, sadness, greed), the five states of mind (benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and sincerity) and the five seasonal subdivisions based on the lunar calendar.This idea has been widely used in the Buddhist temples, palaces, "The Four Gods" on the Koguryo tomb paintings, and applied to the wider fields of porcelain, crafts such as the pillow covers, bed sheets, spoon cases, clothing, table covers, trinkets, and wardrobe.Apart from adding the beauty and colorful decoration on each object, these are the performance to imply the various wishes of life; love, love of couple, fertility, bliss, peace of family, long-life, brotherhood, prosperity, passing an exam, and propriety of a gentleman.

 

After reading a poem by Wang Wei from T‘ang Dynasty, Su Dongpo (1037-1101) said "painting in poetry and poetry in painting."  Likewise, we should be able to see the picture behind the poetry, and grasp the poetic mood hidden behind the picture.Although Asian painters and western painters use similar subjects, the artistic approaches are different because Asian painters use nature in their work as a metaphor to express their ideas and emotions.

 

The four "graceful" plants of plum, orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo are no exception.  Like these four plants, all natural objects in traditional paintings are drawn or painted to depict the "mind image" that represents artists' emotions and ideas.

 

Flower-and-bird paintings have become popular because it is contains the message of "good fortune" than any other genre of paintings.  The tradition of flower-and-bird painting has been carried down to the folk painting and is still being regarded as a popular subject among contemporary artists.Now, I approach this same subject in a different way by concentrating on the expression of my own style with various materials and new techniques rather than limiting to the symbolic meanings.

 

The message in my painting is the "love of nature" and "peace."When I have drawn the contemporary version of "plants, insects, and flowers" throughout thirteen past exhibitions, I have not taken into account floral language or symbolic implication in the flower.Instead, I have been inspired from the seasonal changes of nature and expressed my impression freely.In my paintings, the flower is not merely a flower, and neither is the butterfly.Since these are parts of the grand scheme of nature, I adopted them to magnify the contrast and harmony between movement and serenity, and between the yin and yang.Most flowers and butterflies were placed between the figurative and the abstract, and therefore no one could discern their original forms from the picture.With this style, I tried to explore the symbolic and aesthetic essence, and the vitality and prosperity of the grand nature.Following the tradition is necessary; however, I explored new ways of amplifying, reducing, or transforming the tradition.

 

For this exhibition, I used the images of flowers and butterflies and incorporated them with the traditional and the contemporary.With overall collage of color papers, the work could bring out the effect of the background color and eccentric texture.In a large-scale piece, I made the flower and butterfly relatively large, and placed them in a spacious picture plane, which creates the vitality and harmony in the empty space.To add rhythm, I colored four corners with five traditional colors and painted the spectrum of traditional colors around the rim.The overall theme of my works is the "love of the great nature"  "Three Aspiration" that is based on the three major concerns in traditional society, "Happy Song" that pray for the happiness, "Love Song" that for the loving couples, "The Spring" that represents the beauty and the energy of nature, and "Song for the Flower and Butterfly" that describes the harmony of the flower and butterfly.For coloring, I mostly used acrylic paint, and add strong impact touch with the fluorescent paint.

 

The five traditional colors represent the national sentiment of Korean people.  Based on this idea I have tried to develop my own style.  With the festive image presented by the offbeattexture on the background, I attempted to visualize my own pictorial language of the flower and butterfly, which are on the border of the figurative and the abstract.

 

"Song for the Flowers and Butterflies" has remained the important themein my works for a long time.In portraying the "Love of Nature," I tapped into the "energy" in my soul as well as the "naivet?" / "primitive" side to express the epiphany.  

 

 

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