Seo’s world of folk painting that takes you from past to future

홍기인 기자l승인2021.12.21l수정2021.12.21 10:37






▲ Folk Painting Artist Jinyoung Seo (aka Indang)

[Folk Painting]

Korean folk painting takes time and effort as well as a sense of duty from artists since the genre represents a tradition of Korea. Along the technical side, folk painting artists are required to study the tradition on how it started, preserved and developed in order to give deeper understanding and execution. Monthly <PowerKorea> met Jinyoung Seo and heard about her story of folk painting.


[The Artist]

Seo majored in fashion design in Milan, Italy and worked for clothing companies back in South Korea. It was around 2012 she came to know the charm of Korean folk painting and started the art in her spare time as a hobby. 


“I was walking on a spring day. I don’t know what took me but I felt some kind of awe how nature works. Things came into my eye differently on the day and watching and imagining plants and flowers budding up from the soil to bloom made me cry. Back home, I wanted to hang a flower picture on the wall and who knew it led me into the world of folk painting” looks back Seo. 


Drawing folk painting aroused a new energy in her life. She woke up early to paint before leaving home for work and it became her pattern. The hobby grew serious and she wanted to have her own studio. She took over an art academy in Gimpo City and turned into a studio during which she quit her job to focus on the art only.


“It’s been three years since and I never regret. Meeting with Minja Seo who taught me the art 10 years ago was changed my life completely. We still meet each other to talk about our works and ideas. I think it is important to find my own style with the traditional as a good reference because my own style is the very presentation of what I feel and deliver through lines, colors, patterns and objects.”



<Keongjikdo> is the representative work of Seo. It is drawn on a 10 times folding screen. In the work, the ruler watches farmers and enlightens himself to do things in fairness and frugality. She started to paint the work in winter 2019 and completed after 6 months. 

“I felt like famers in the work were like my comrades. I woke up 3 to 4 am every morning to fill up the empty space one by one and I poured a lot of my energy and passion to make things as I intended and also perfectly. When completed, I brought it to the Korea Traditional Art Competition and to my surprise the work received the grand prize. I was really happy and honored. The 6 months of my struggle was well paid.”


Apart from <Keongjikdo>, Seo received excellent reviews on her works <Chrysanthemum and Cat>, <Floating Cat>, <Moon Jar>, <Sipjangsaegdo>, <Autumn Yeonhwado> and <Hwajodo>. <Moon Jar> in particular was order to paint and the sun rising behind the moon jar symbolizes vitality of life. 


“Future is there because there was past. My works in a way is a process to imbue these timelines from past and present to future. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland could be an inspiration for my works to draw out child-like subjects and to put things into place like children put the puzzle together in time and space.” 



Apart from doing her own works, she runs an art therapy course for children and another course for adults. It makes her busy but she is proactively engaging with those who have interest in folk painting through her social media. She has been teaching folk painting at the Gimpo Cultural Foundation Arts Center for 2 years. Every now and then, she organizes an exhibition together with students to check and how much they have accomplished. Currently, Seo is collaborating with Jaloo that introduces works of famous artists and you can see her works on Jaloo at the Hyatt The Spa Select Shop. She is also expecting her work to cover Damso Makkulee (Korean rice wine) and an exhibition in Sejong City next year. <PowerKorea>

▲ 미래로 가는 과거의 여정 170x120cm 순지

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