Feb 6 Tue 10am-Noon Met – Korea’s Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art – Gallery, Gallery 233 (February 7–May 20, 2018)

 Jeong Seon. Mount Geumgang Viewed from Danbal Ridge, leaf from the Album of Mount Geumgang, 1711. Ink and light color on silk. National Museum of Korea, Seoul, Treasure no. 1875

Jeong Seon. Mount Geumgang Viewed from Danbal Ridge, leaf from the Album of Mount Geumgang, 1711. Ink and light color on silk. National Museum of Korea, Seoul, Treasure no. 1875

Mountainous soul

There is no region closer to the hearts of Koreans responding to their heritage in natural geography than the dramatically varied and extensive Diamond Mountains which lie on their East coast above and beyond the political border which now divides their peninsula, cruelly keeping the South Koreans from visiting this magnificent and dramatic range as they briefly could for a decade from 1998. but this extensive sampling of their artistic response to it over the last four centuries ranges from the Album of Mount Geumgang by Jeong Seon (above) through Elizabeth Keith, the Scottish artist among a handful of foreign visitors to Korea in the 1920s who wrote that she “would not have missed the grandeur for all the danger. Sometimes a mountain-top would appear like the dome of a great cathedral. Then the tops would look like jagged spires. . . . The beauty of the climb was a revelation to me”, to two contemporary works by Shin Jangsik the professor of art at Seoul University present at the preview who visited every year during the recent decade the door was briefly open to South Koreans whose many notable Diamond Mountains paintings (see below one of the two included in the show) reflect his own as well as the continuing national artistic and cultural engagement with this remarkable landscape that in its enduring monumental variety calls eternally to the Korean soul.

Shin Jangsik, Korean, born 1959. The Light at Cheonhwadae Peaks, from the series Twelve Scenes of Mount Geumgang, Korea, 2014 Acrylic on canvas and Korean paper. Image: 25 3/8 x 38 1/2 in. (64 x 98 cm). Lent by the artist Shin has almost exclusively devoted his energy to the subject of the Diamond Mountains since the early 1990s. He began painting the mountains in 1993 before ever visiting them. When the Diamond Mountains reopened to tourism in 1998, he was on the first ship sailing for Geumgang. Since then, he has journeyed multiple times, through different routes and locations and at all times of the year. In 2014 he painted a series of twelve scenes depicting various sites within the mountains in the four seasons. The Light at Cheonhwadae captures the brilliant sunlight reflected off the   snowcapped peaks. Shin, who trained in Western techniques, typically uses acrylic on canvas (or on Korean mulberry paper over canvas), capturing the effervescence and luminosity of the landscape in bright colors.

Shin Jangsik, Korean, born 1959. The Light at Cheonhwadae Peaks, from the series Twelve Scenes of Mount Geumgang, Korea, 2014 Acrylic on canvas and Korean paper. Image: 25 3/8 x 38 1/2 in. (64 x 98 cm). Lent by the artist – Caption: Shin has almost exclusively devoted his energy to the subject of the Diamond Mountains since the early 1990s. He began painting the mountains in 1993 before ever visiting them. When the Diamond Mountains reopened to tourism in 1998, he was on the first ship sailing for Geumgang. Since then, he has journeyed multiple times, through different routes and locations and at all times of the year. In 2014 he painted a series of twelve scenes depicting various sites within the mountains in the four seasons. The Light at Cheonhwadae captures the brilliant sunlight reflected off the snowcapped peaks. Shin, who trained in Western techniques, typically uses acrylic on canvas (or on Korean mulberry paper over canvas), capturing the effervescence and luminosity of the landscape in bright colors.

Cat. 11 Album of Mount Geumgang 1-e. Haesan Pavilion 해산정 Image: 10 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (26.8 x 37.3 cm). This leaf depicts a relatively large swath of the mountains, in an overhead composition. With the white rocky peaks in the background, a wide slice of Sea Geumgang is presented—from the Haesan Pavilion in the middle ground to the Seven Star Pillars, a constellation of oddly shaped rocks, in the sea on the lower left corner.

Cat. 11 Album of Mount Geumgang 1-e. Haesan Pavilion 해산정 Image: 10 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (26.8 x 37.3 cm). This leaf depicts a relatively large swath of the mountains, in an overhead composition. With the white rocky peaks in the background, a wide slice of Sea Geumgang is presented—from the Haesan Pavilion in the middle ground to the Seven Star Pillars, a constellation of oddly shaped rocks, in the sea on the lower left corner.

Met Museum text: The Diamond Mountains—perhaps the most iconic and emotionally resonant site on the Korean peninsula—is the theme of an international loan exhibition that will open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 6, 2018. Though the region has inspired cultural pride since ancient times, its present location in North Korea has kept it largely inaccessible in modern times. Featuring nearly 30 landscape paintings from the 18th century to the present—from delicately painted scrolls and screens to monumental modern and contemporary artworks—Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art will present the visual imagery of this emblematic site. The highlight of the exhibition will be an exquisite early 18th-century album—a designated Treasure from the National Museum of Korea—by the master painter Jeong Seon (1676–1759), who revolutionized Korean painting by breaking with conventional generic imagery and depicting native scenery. The exhibition is the first in the West on this important subject, and most of the works have never before been displayed in the United States.

The exhibition is made possible by The Met’s collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (MCST) and the National Museum of Korea (NMK).

Diamond Mountains is part of a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of The Met’s Arts of Korea Gallery, and the opening coincides with the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The exhibition will also include works by renowned painters such as Kim Hajong (1793-?) and Sin Hakgwon (1785-1866).

More
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *