"Painting of ten symbols is people's desperate wishes for longevity, happiness and good luck"

홍기인 기자l승인2020.08.20l수정2020.08.20 10:31

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▲ Artist Kim Jae-hwan

Painting of ten longevity symbols is seen as peoples wishes for a long life and happiness and good luck. The ten symbols are the sun, the moon, mountain, water, rock, pine tree, turtle, crane, deer and elixir plant. For this reason, the riches often fancy a work of ten symbols to keep in their house or somewhere valuable.

A record tells that the painting first appeared during the Goryeo Kingdom. There have been many artists who themed their works on ten symbols and artist Kim Jae-hwan is one of them; but with his unique feel of pouring soul of energy into each of his mastery work. PowerKorea met him and learned about his art world on ten symbols.

The Path

“Painting is all I know about in life. I live as nature flows and do what I like most. I feel content whenever I take a brush in my hands and it is such a bliss to paint ten symbols on the canvas" says artist Kim Jae-hwan. 

Kim is credited for pioneering traditional brushwork of Korean landscape painting to modern brushwork. From abstract landscape, he tested his ability in realism landscape and moved onto ten symbols in which he mastered brushwork to the level of delicate depiction of objects alongside colors and letters. 

"I pour spirit and soul into the depiction of my ten symbols. The genre is hard to achieve without painful errors and trials but the fruits they give are greater than the pain. This might be the reason that I observed some appreciators seemed to be awed instantly as soon as they lay their eyes on my works."

Sometimes it takes several days to complete a stroke of line to shape a big rock because a line is not just a line for Kim but 'energy'. And this energy is prerequisite for masterpiece. 

"Ten symbols painting contains elements of ideology, philosophy, technique, colors and principle of nature. So I call it a 'total art'. It might sound interesting but I pray to Buddhist saints and gods of heaven and earth to protect the painting and the owner."

Kim enhances esthetic symbolism when it comes to depicting heavenly peach, and traditional Korean brushwork or abstract to pine tree, rock, mountain, water and sea. It is notable that he uses his thumb print as seal so that others cannot copy. 

The Artist

Kim, aka Daeheung, was born and bred in Goseong County, South Gyeongsang Province. Born dexiterity, he drew the sea often as a child and set up his goal to be a great artist when he read a newspaper the most expensive art work sold. He was then 16. 

He held first solo exhibition at Jin Gallery, Masan, in February 1981. He climbed Muhak Mountain every morning observing and painting the landscape. In 1987, he stayed at a temple in Seoul and climbed Bukhan Mountain every day and studied and painted the ridges and peaks. 

This was the time that he realized a need for modern technique and application if he wanted to overcome the limit of the olden methods; also started to make presence in the art circles and was invited to numerous exhibition home and abroad. 

Value of art

Art and music are languages of the world. People communicate with these media without the need to know each language of the world. For this reason, those who know about the values of art and music cherish them more than money. Money becomes nothing when a nation collapses but its cultural asset lives forever. 

Some even compare their value this way: Owning a $100,000 car for 10 years can cost you around $400,000 but owning a $100,000 art work for 10 years can be that much worth or more. 

Wether we buy an art work for decoration, possession or investment, having an art work not only enriches the life of the owner but the society as a whole. 

"Painting of ten symbols not only is about a type of art work but people's desperate wishes for longevity, happiness and good luck" says Kim.

▲ 김재환 화백의 작품 십장생도. 2020년

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