Korean animal paintings
Paintings of various animals are mostly seen in the historic genre minhwa, also known as Korean folk art. It is a type of colourful painting that was created by anonymous folk artists following traditional forms. It featured robust animals as supernatural. Such as tigers, dragons, insects and cranes featured in colourful natural backgrounds.
The tiger as a sacred animal
In Korean art each nature’s motif gives meaning to a certain conception of value, such as spiritual strength, firmness, longevity and wisdom. The way subjects are presented also have a special meaning. Paired birds for instance are a symbol of marital love. Insects and flowers represent harmony between yin and yang. The tiger is regarded as a guardian that drives away evil spirits. A sacred creature that brings good luck and is the symbol of courage, strength and absolute power.
The tiger is one of the most popular animal motif in minhwa. It is significant for Korean art how the tiger is portrayed. Almost never as a ferocious beast, but mostly as a friendly and sometimes even comical and clumsy animal.
The Kaesong Collection
The majority of current Korean painters still follow the path of tradition. The Kaesong Collection, of high quality North Korean art works, unfolds a stylistic and genre panorama of Korean contemporary painting and brings out two aspects in the development of Korean painting. One is associated with long art traditions of Korea, the East Asian countries and their art heritage. The other, more modernist trends in the arena of world art. Containing the finest contemporary and modern oil paintings, watercolours and drawings. This makes the Kaesong Collection such an exclusive collection.
WHAT IS THE KAESONG COLLECTION?
The Kaesong collection is a unique selection of high quality Korean art works. It is acquired in the most isolated country in the world: North Korea. These hidden treasures contain the finest contemporary and modern oil paintings, watercolours and drawings. They are created by Korean artists, like Jong Chang Mo, Son U Yong, Rim Ryul, Tak Hyo Yeon, Kim Sung Hui, Kim Song Min and many others. Among them are several prize winners at international exhibitions held in Asian countries. They are widely acclaimed in South Korea, China, Japan, The Philippines and Thailand.
HOW DID THE KAESONG COLLECTION CAME TO BE?
Curiosity, love for art and an interest in long-term investments in art made Frans Broersen (owner of Springtime Art Foundation) decide to visit North Korea. With intensive negotiations and help from the North Korean Embassy in London, he finally got the invitation from the Korean government by the Ministry of Culture of North Korea. After his first visit, Frans was confident of the possibilities and quality of North Korean art. Back home, he formed a team of people to combine knowledge, money and workforce to start purchasing works of art. Several visits and many acquisitions later, the Kaesong Collection took its shape.
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL KOREAN ART?
Korean art consists of paintings, calligraphy, music, mulberry paper art, decorative knot making, pottery like celadon, sculptures and other forms of art. The beauty of Korean art and the strength of its artists lies in simplicity, spontaneity and a feeling of harmony with nature. It values tenderness, a sense of balance, serenity and harmony. It is distinguished for its simple and elegant composition. The majority of today’s Korean artists still follow the path of tradition. Each nature’s motif gives meaning to a certain conception of value, such as spiritual strength, firmness, longevity and wisdom.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT KOREAN ART?
In the course of history, Korean culture and art has been influenced by Chinese styles, obliged by Japan during the Japanese occupation period (1910-1945) and inspired by European styles in the modern era. But it has always kept its own unique style, elements, traditional symbols and patterns. Which all have their own meaning and representation.
In Korean art you find the concept of naturalism, and it is characterized by its non-complex and harmonious composition, due to a deep connection with their natural surroundings. Korean artists try to portray nature as true to life as possible. And even though the art scene in Korea has been influenced by different art movements, it has over the past centuries developed a distinctive style of its own. Based on the rich traditional and cultural history of Korea.
WHAT IS THE MOST FAVOURITE SUBJECT OF KOREAN PAINTINGS?
- Popular genres throughout the centuries are:
- Daoist Paintings depicting the ten longevity symbols known as shipjangsaengdo. Which are: the sun, clouds, mountains, water, bamboo, pine, crane, deer, turtle and the mushroom of immortality. They are often all represented in a single picture.
- Buddhist and Confucian paintings; showing the Buddha and Confucian art portraying as scholars wearing the traditional stove-pipe hats and monochromatic robes. Usually depicted in a teahouse near mountains or at mountain lodges.
- Persian hunting scenes; often seen in Korean courtly art.
- Decorative Painting; the vast majority of ancient folk painting, were used for decorative purposes.
Popular subjects are:
- The Four Gracious Plants, also known as the Four Gentlemanly Plants
- Minhwa (Korean folk art)
- Genre and Landscape Painting