40 years of single path as a folk painting artist Pioneering a communicative world of living art

홍기인 기자l승인2019.09.24l수정2019.09.24 10:11






▲ Folk Painting Artist Joungok Lee

Artist Joungok Lee’s exhibition titled ‘Happy Wind, Folk Painting Wind - Fan’ is being held at the FOSCO Gallery in Pohang City until 30th September. The first floor of the gallery displays 170 works themed on ‘high spirit’ and the second floor displays 230 works themed on ‘excitement’. A variety of fans with traditional paintings as well as craft works and installations are greeting the visitors and bridging them to her world of art closer.

Uniqueness and creativity expressed on fans
Our ancestors used a fan to cool off the summer heat. Artist Joungok Lee also known as Jookri focused on this fan to expand her art world to folk painting combined with elements of crafts and formative arts. She starts from tradition and develops it into contemporary and raises it to the level of uniqueness and creativity. She pours into her fan works gracefulness, simplicity, honesty, freedom, wit and humor with three-dimensional effect. 

Appreciators might find the works as elegant, romantic, witty and lyrical. The widened screen gives bright spirit and the smooth yet strong edges delivers good energy to viewers. One might feel a full of happiness if appreciating each detail of the work with keen eye for a while. 

“Folk painting is a symbol of a variety of lives of living things and it combines them into one harmony whether they are trees, flowers, waters or people. Because of this reason, folk painting opens our heart and it delivers messages of love, hope and happiness.”

Global recognition gained with her unique style
Korean fans have many types. Some are made with feathers and some with handle, foldable or functional. The feather fan is called ‘woosun’ and the handle ‘dansun’ or ‘wonsun’ or ‘banggu fan’. 

The daewonsun in dansun means big and circular and ‘taegeuksun’ means a fan with yin and yang patterns. The foldable is called ‘jupsun’ which has a number of sub kinds: hongsun emphasized with red lines, hwasun filled with drawing, sansuhwasun with landscape, and maejohwasun with birds and apricot flower. The functional is called ‘byeolsun’ which was used for wedding ceremony. 

While fans have their own beauty, folk paintings are melted with people’s wish to live happy and healthy as well as their imaginations. The subjects of folk paintings are found easily in our daily life and each work contains a wish of commoners like our mothers and grandmothers. Depending on how to see, folk painting can be witty and humorous, a record of how our ancestors lived, and national sentiments and common esthetic values and wishes such as longevity, wealth and productivity. 

The colors are vivid and strong and it is linked with folk religions functioning as a talisman. Some of the common works are ‘jakhodo’ attached to the gate, ‘yeonhwado’ drawn with lotus, ‘checkado’ drawn with the four precious things of the study, ‘eohaedo’ drawn with carps and catfish, and ‘hwajodo’ filled with flowers. 

Thanks to this variety of subjects and colors alongside truthful wishes of commoners, folk painting captivated members of noble and royal societies. 

Synthetic art awakening the spirit of the times with tradition and communication
Lee majored in fine art. Looking for answers to her identity, she reached to a fact that she was a Korean and found another fact that the excitement comes from shamanism. Advancing her study to Ewha Womans University Graduate School of Education, she released a paper theme on ‘Contemplation on Iconographic Meanings of Korean Shamanistic Spirit’. 

“I saw the past, present and future at folk painting and I was enchanted by Korean symbolism. Back in 70s, only a few artists engaged in folk painting so I decided my mind to devote myself to the genre which has lasted 40 years.”

Today, Korean folk painting is recognized as ‘living art’ and is being reinterpreted in modern terms. Lee points out that Korean folk painting has our ancestor’s optimism, positivity and spirit. 

“Folk painting contains wisdom of commoners that awakens the spirit of the time. For this reason, every single folk painting has its unique thinking and idea that breaks the mold of set ideas.”

Korean folk painting today is wowing the world and compliments are pouring in from foreigners for the level of technique, style and above all uniqueness.


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