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Mountains, waters, sceneries of the hearty thoughts


Half a century of mountains and rivers Ssaritbal




Painting Trees and Forests


As always, the large trees at the entrances of the village are standing silently. The richly blended forest adds sophistication, and the wild peaches bloom in red amid the bushes of lespedeza shrubs. In the old days, wild peaches were not popular, way out of interest, and we used to eat the flowers before the fruit was ripe but they seem prettier today. The wild peach blossoms remind me of the peach trees orchard and lead me to the legendary paradise, the same trees and forest of my hometown that brought me the Dong A Art Award (1984, 瑞林 Seorim) of the Dong A Art Festival some 40 years ago. They are the protagonists who made me who I am. Ever since then, I have been elated by mountains and fields and loved the wild trees grown on their own. The self-sustaining ability to intertwine, stretch, and bloom is a wonder in itself. I saw the strong zest for life in the vitality of these trees and the sallow trees, discovering the native Korean wilderness and aborigenous beauty. Later I was honored with the Award granted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Dong-A Art Festival for the work entitled Sanjeong (2004, 山情 Sanjeong) on the topic of trees and forests. The free writing method protruding from this production process the technique was named as ssaritbal, as it reminds the lespedeza shrub, by art critics Kwang-Soo Oh and professor Baek-Kyun Kim. The technique that was born this way was later linked to ink paintings that is centered in stencil techniques, developing into my own personal realistic painting style of present day.



Painting and Hiking


My ties with mountains started writing the column ‘Painting and Hiking’ for San (Mountain) the monthly magazine of Chosun Ilbo between 1991 and 1995. For 5 years I painted images of mountains that would go well with mountain climbing. Dobong was the first mountain that I climbed with my tools. I climbed from the entrance through Dobong Seowon and the Cheonchook Temple all the way to Madang Rock. It was the moment I was approaching Manjangbong and Jawoonbong in Dobong. There the impressive image of Cheonchooksa was in such an harmony with all. Under this spell, over a period of one year I visited every corner of Dobong Mt. and painted 4 pieces every month for a total of 50 depicting different aspects of this mountain, being the main topics the temples of Mangwol, Hoiryong, Wooiam, and the Wooiryeong, Obong peaks, Sapae Mt. and other hidden temples and water falls. The series continued with Bukhan Mt. where there is a triangle of peaks forme by Baekwoondae, Insubong, Mangyeongbong, known also as the triangle or Samgak Mt. Bukhan Mt. Fortress is in the Samgak Mt., also linked to many peaks like Wonhyobong, Euisangbong, Bohyeonbong thus I became familiarized with the their fortresses, cultural heritage. The paintings and drawings like Dobongsando, Insubongdo, Nojeokbongdo are oval shaped and some are cross-winding like Wooiryeongdo, a huge work that depicts the more than 30 lis between Bukhan and Dobong Mts. wtih Wooiryeong between them. It is a piece inspired in the iconic place of the eternal sleep in Jeongseon de Hwanseong Gyeomjae. All led me to continue climbing numerous famous mountains all over the country. With the passionate youth and climbing to paint for more than 30 years bought me health and became a great assets in sansuhwa paintings. In 1997 had the honor to hold Painting and Hiking Invitational Exhibition sponsored by Chosun Ilbo. In 2016 I published the pictorial books of Dobong Mt. Bukhan Mt., Seorak Mt., and Magnificent Sceneries and held the Exhibition of Pictorial Books of blossoming flowers and flowing waters at the Gallery of Sejong Culural Cente.




The heart in the water and falls


In the philosophy of sansuhwa or mountain and water, water means the road to meditation. The water falls from high and flows to lower parts, if it gets blocked it would make a turn. It would wet dry places, fill empty ones, and once it is filled it will run again. When it becomes large it would turn silent and flow to the sea. There is an eternal element of life philosophy in the water and a ruly theoretical concept of esthetics in the realm of mountains and rivers. There are calm waters and also running ones, streams, rapids, ponds, lagoons and powerful cataracts. Cataracts would cleanse the dirt, enhancing clean life spirit. However the expressions of water seems surprisingly easy but ultimately they are difficult and complicated. For water shape looks simple butt it varies depending on the flowing and the places.where it is in.

In order to better depict the expressions of water I visited many falls and valleys, focusing all my efforts toward the lines of the water and the maniestations of its shades. Daeseung, Towangseong from Seorak Mt., Yongchoo from Doota Mt., Samyongchoo of Naeyeon Mt., Jiktang Falls and Sambu Lagoong in Cheolwon, and the many falls in Jeju are among the most memorable waterfalls. Others include Geumgangsan Biryong Falls, Guryong Falls, and Baekdusan Jangbaek Falls. The cataracts that we can see in the Five Great mountains of China or the Niagara Falls in the United States, not seen in Korean mountains, expand the scope of imagination.

By depicting water and mountains I focus on my works taking them as important elements that link the scenery with the space and the beauty of moist mountains and water bodies.




Characters in water and mountain paintings


Characters in water and mountain paintings are tiny figures. Their facial expressions are invisible but one can figure out by their looks and shapes what they are thinking and where they are going to. The characters in this type of paintings are calm, even desolate. Sometimes they are made sad and lonely but there are light and brightness in there and peaceful cozyness too. The figures in these paintings deepen the space and the lingering imagery, causing many stories and imaginations within the works.

I depict numerous characters in these paintings. It is to manifest life with spiritual depth. A hiker who walks idly in the mountain, an older man who is turning the corner, kids crossing the stepping stones, a rough farmer carrying an A-frame carrier, are frequently depicted. They make sheerly common daily images but I draw them dozens of times. I draw until I can express those odd and unsofisticated expressions. I applaud and rejoiced as soon as I get their innocent and homely expressiones in sansuhwa paintings as if I had found myself in them. It is the moment when the nostalgia is surging. The figures in the mountains and waters are my memories. And also can be said that they are the customs of our era and background.




Bihaedang Anpyeong-daegun and the Hyeonchang Project of Master Hyeongdongja Angyeon


Master Hyeondongja Angyeon was born in Jigok, Seosan in the South Chungnam Province. He became renown among academics through the book “Jukgye sajeok”, property of Ahn Sang Hwan(former councilman of Seosan city). The city of Seosan built the Memorial of Angyeon and operates a commemorative project in Jigok, in the place where it is believe the master was born.

Being active in mainstream painters community and born in Seosan were the reasons how I started the Hyeonchang Project of Bihaedang Anpyeong-daegun.

The Association for the Anpyeong.Angyeon Hyeonchang Project holds annually academic conferences and cultural festivals since year 2001 along with the Exhibition of paintings of Angyeon Spirit and the Exhibition of Young Angyeon Painters, Special Exhibition of the Anpyeong.Angyeon Creativeness Prize, among others, to celebrate Anpyeong-daegun and the artistic spirit of Angyeon.


As part of the cultural movement of Anpyeong.Angyeon, the Mugyeowon (Buamdong, Jongro-gu District in Seoul) was recovered. I think this type of actions would be the basis that can achieve the return of the painting Mongyudowon-do back to Korea some day.


When one admires and venerates a person, some how one can get assimilated to that person. Moved by the cause! So I hope that if one dreams in becoming a good artist at least one could assimilate to that admired one, at least, in a tiny portion.

I amd very proud that I was able to contribute to shed light on these two masters.




Looking at a distant mountain from trees and forests


The basis of oriental painting that is sansuhwa is undergoing sufferings and debates amidst the wave of modernity. The paintings of mountains and waters proper of Korea that gave birth to Hyeondongja Angyeon and Gyeomjae Jeongseon, could not go further than artists like Cheongjeon Lee Sang Beom, Sojeong Byeon Gwan Shik, with no new developments, with a stagnation that is lasting more than 50 years .

My thought is that someone has to hold the ground as the center and develop this era and link it to the future as a stepping stone. Sansuhwa painting is not a genre that can be completed in a short period of time. It takes a long period of time in building and maturing the characteristics.

For half a century now that I have been exploring famous scenic spots in the country along with my painting tools. Looking back in my 20s I was focused on studying the works of our ancestors; in th 30s exerted efforts in searching the identities of trees and forests; in my 40s through painting and hiking climbing numerous mountains I was familiarized with the deep changes of mountains and waters; in my 50s in order to get the vitality from mountains I tried to embrace the water in my mind; in my 60s human figures were introduced in my paintings and through them I procured to gain the depth of the mountains and waters and a space for thought. Too frequently one can get a glimpse of the wandering and shyness. Like the bamboo tree that grows up making its own nodes, I take a look back at the road taken. Time did not spare me of reaching the seventies also known as 古稀(go-hui).



Many people seeks the happiness through possessions but I am in search of happiness through the world of paintings. What I would be remembered by, I start to wonder as well.




April 2020

Paljoong Sanin Kim Moon Sik

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