Gallery Hyundai is pleased to present Flower Paintings from the Joseon Dynasty, an exhibition which shows the beauty in classical paintings of flowers and birds. Among many genres of Minhwa (Korean folk painting) that prevailed in the late 19th century, the theme of flowers and birds were most popular to the public. The flowers and birds that appear in these paintings transcend both reality and the ideal world, with a tint of kind-hearted cheerfulness. Also, depicted within an unconstrained composition, the flowers symbolize our ancestor’s longings for love, abundance and happiness in vivid yet genuine colors. The exhibition comprises paintings of flowers, small animals, peonies, lotuses and flower embroidery works, with an emphasis on artistic mastery of Minhwa and their unique formative language and color aesthetics.
The public’s affection toward these paintings can be found in its subject matter. The decorative feature of peonies and the heartwarming feelings from apricot flowers were widely used not only for paintings but also for various everyday objects such as clothes or pouches. Another element that attracted the public for these paintings is the formal aspect. The shapes of the flowers in the paintings were not bound by any fixed formality. They were depicted as somewhat carefree creatures existing somewhere between reality and the ideal. In this way, the artists could depart from simply ‘copying’ nature, and thus could delve into putting one’s creativity and thoughts with more freedom. The unique representations of flowers were further accentuated with the subtle combination of colors, allowing us to glimpse at the exceptional taste of the aesthetic consciousness of that time. The subtle colors taken from natural sources were combined with five cardinal colors to give out somewhat fantasy-like ambience and stimulating depiction of birds and flowers.
This exhibition is the second curated show of Minhwa, after Minhwa and Court Painting of the Joseon Dynasty: Munja-do and Chaekgeori held in 2016 and co-hosted by Gallery Hyundai and Seoul Arts Center. While the exhibition in 2016 highlighted the globalized and universal value of Chaekgeori (paintings of books and things), this exhibition gathers masterpieces of flowers and birds to promote Minhwa to a wider audience and also to re-modernize the perspectives toward the flower paintings from Joseon dynasty.