In literary painting, artist's spiritual world tends to come before shapes and details of objects. Literary painting artist Ji Sook-ja points out poem, calligraphy and object as the three elements of this unique genre of Korean art. Ji has led most of her life in teaching. It was when she reached seventy after retiring the job that she started literary painting in earnest. Though started late, her passion and devotion were great that she won the best literary painting prize at the 36th Grand Art Exhibition of Korea in 2017. PowerKorea met her and learned about her life and art world.
Q. What do you think makes a good painting?
A. If it is known to be brilliant but I don't like and buy, then I think it is not a good painting. What I'm trying to say that it is wholly dependent on one's preference. I think it is a good painting if I want to see it again and again even in a day. As an artist, I value highly of paintings that have hearts and souls.
Q. How do you explain about your works?
A. I would like to put them as storytelling paintings that invite a poem, calligraphy and object in harmony. I focus on a stroke of brushwork, vitality and movement to enhance formativeness and also on the Five Elements (earth, fire, water, wood and metal). I started calligraphy and literary painting during my years of teaching and I actually spent a considerable amount of time to cultivate my skill. I especially like crabs and I once held an exhibition themed on crabs with 50 of my works. It is sad to hear that the mud field in South Korea has reduced considerably. I'm determined to join the campaign if there is any.
Q. What is the charm of literary painting?
A. Personally, it is the biggest pleasure of my life. The colors of the ink are enchanting and one might not help falling in love with it once she knows the charm of it. People often say the charm of literary painting is space but I think leaving the space as space doesn't mean anything but filling it with invisible sound of nature means something. Also, I might have to say that literary painting makes me calm and peaceful.
Q. Do you have any principle when creating art works?
A. I always encourage myself with hope. I has led a quite and peaceful life. Entering the sunset phase of my life now, I do not know how long I could live. So I focus on what I love to do most instead of counting the remaining days. Harry Lieberman started painting at eighty one and had held twenty two times of exhibitions until one hundred and one. He is my role model.
Q. What is your advice to young people whose mind is on literary painting?
A. Paint like a festival not like homework, is my advice to them. Life is short. So they had better enjoy every moment of process and progress like a festival. Take it as to train yourself and to make yourself strong, I might want to add.
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