The role of the Hwagwang Cultural Asset Research Center is to research and recover Goryeo Buddhist paintings. Director Kim Ji-sang majored in Buddhist art at Dongbang Culture University and deepened his skill under the instruction of monk Manbong (Intangible Cultural Asset No.48). “Buddhist paintings require a lot of time and effort both in theory and practice. Religious-wise, some bows 108 times to the buddha but I do the same devotion with my paintings. What is important is ‘how’ but not ‘what’. For this reason, I always feel humble whenever I do my work so that the humbleness can be properly delivered to the Buddhists” said Kim. In 2007, Kim passed the test of the Seohwasubok Research Center of the National Museum of China and became the first Korean researcher of the museum. “The test lasted a year and I feel really proud that I passed the exam. I finished my job as the Korean researcher in 2009 and I learned a lot. Many of the Chinese Buddhist art works were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Luckily, the Chinese government started the recovery from 2000 and the government has achieved a significant recovery and development in the field today.” He continued “Recovering the works is as important as maintaining the work in its best state. This is the reason that China makes a copy of the original in case. On the other hand, many temples and monks in Korea seem to be ignorant about the seriousness on the works being damaged. Also, some painters seem to ignore the traditional methods and colors. Goryeo Buddhist paintings use natural materials and ‘bachaebup (transparent background painting)’. So one must be aware of this and must not use chemical materials as it lowers the overall quality of the work. I personally think that the recovery of Buddhist paintings must be done and taught by those who know about the Buddhism and its code such as the costume, colors, styles and images. Also, the temples or responsible organizations must give the orders only to those qualified instead of the shabby repairs here and there done by the unprofessional.” Kim has provided his thorough recovery or production services for 350 temples in Korea. He received a ministerial prize from the Ministry of Environment with his work ‘Nahando (The buddha’s disciples)’ and a citation from the Cultural Heritage Administration in recognition of his contribution to the field. He also has held, or participated, more than 50 solo and group exhibitions home and abroad. “A Buddhist painting can be a medium to remove your inner storms through appreciating. For me, the recovery has the same effect and I feel like I had a great debt to Ven. Sangjin whom I learned the right way to reach the teachings of the buddha.” Currently, Kim is continuing his passion at Cheongryon Temple.
Note: <Power Korea> “rewrites” the Korean article in English “concisely” for native English speakers and staff of foreign missions in Korea.
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