Monday, October 10, 2011

Kansong museum to open fall exhibition

In the tranquil neighborhood in Seongbuk-dong, Seoul, every spring and fall, numerous visitors will patiently line up to tour Kansong Art Museum.

The long hours of waiting won’t be minded because it’s the only time that the art museum holds rare antiques exhibitions.
Showcasing the progress of folk paintings, including portraits, during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), this season’s exhibit will run from Oct. 16 to 30.

Some 100 paintings of 52 Joseon master painters such as Ahn Gyeon and Kim Eun-ho will be displayed.

The paintings of the early Joseon period were influenced by Chinese styles — largely that of Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism style that originated from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) — to the extent of imitation.

As time passed, Joseon scholar Yi I (1536-1584) developed Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism into Joseon’s ideology, Joseon’s own colors and flavor were created.

Since then, Jeong Seon (1676-1759) completed the heyday of the Joseon’s landscape paintings featuring its own geographical traits and society.

Using the pseudonym “Gyeomjae,” meaning humble study, Jeong was one of the most influential landscape painters in the 18th century Korea with his realistic style. He was influenced by Chinese paintings in his earlier life, but later developed his own approach. For example, a traditional Korean A-frame carrier, which was usually used for carrying firewood, was first depicted in his painting titled “Oechomundap (Fisherman and Woodcutter in Conversation).”

Cho Young-seok (1686-1761) realistically portrayed the ordinary lives of people such as a low-class woman working in her kitchen in a shanty thatched house in his painting “Travel to Rural House.”

The flourishing growth of the paintings peaked when Kim Hong-do (1745-1806), Kim Deuk-shin (1754-1822) and Shin Yun-bok (1758-) produced prolific folk works reflecting Joseon’s beauty and particular characteristics.

“Jamoyuka (Mother Feeding Her Baby)” drawn by Shin Han-pyeong, Yun-bok’s father, captures a mother feeding her daughter in her arms and a son and another daughter touching a pouch of his mother. The painting is known to be an ordinary scene that could be found at any household at that time. Some critics say the work depicts Shin’s family.

Kim Hong-do’s “Giubusin” portrays an innocent boy carrying firewood and riding on a cow in a rural place while “Masangcheongaeng (Listening to an Oriole from Atop a Horse)” captures a scholar who listens to a bird’s song on the back of a horse.

Shin Yun-bok often described the entertainment culture of young elites through “Portrait of a Beauty,” “Chunsaekmanwon,” “Sonyeonjeonhong” and “Yeonsodapcheong.”

Towards the late Joseon period, the Joseon’s painting styles began waning as the Qing’s portrait styles dominated.

The museum was the first modern private museum opened in Korea in 1938, in the middle of the colonial period. It was named after the penname of its founder Jeon Hyeong-pil, which means a “pine tree standing in the clean streams.”

Standing on a lot of some 13,223 square meters in northern Seoul, the museum and its surrounding area have an extremely quiet and peaceful quality. The main building, “Bohwagak,” is home to the cultural treasures that Jeon collected during his lifetime. The majority of the collection are as precious as national treasures.

It exhibits its collections for two weeks in both May and October and publishes a catalogue entitled Kansong Culture to coincide with the biannual exhibitions.

Admission is free. For more, call (02) 762-0442.

1 comment:

  1. Kansong curators are criminals: given their illuminate exposition politics, people who want to visit the museum are forced to stand in line for hours, and only the lucky ones will be admitted to the hall before closing time (in my case, I arrived there at 9.45 am, i.e. 15 minutes before opening time, and got in 10 minutes before 5 pm). I'm still young and healthy but I had a really hard time waiting there for seven hours, and I admit I was surpised that no one of the many elderly in line had to call the ambulance (not joking).
    Not to mention the fact that the line jams the road in front of the museum for the whole period of exhibition, with obvious repercussions on public safety and on the comfort of local residents.

    Even if you are lucky enought to manage to get in, you are forced to look at the artworks in a way that I better define as grotesque: there is no logic in the order of the exposition: works of different painters, themes and periods stiffed in these dirty and dangerous cabinets with no security and preservation system of any kind. And, of course, you cannot look at any work for more than 10 seconds, due to the overwhelming number of visitors inside the halls.

    The museum houses many paintings essential to understand korean art, but the museum management is simply ridiculous, and this is sad.