Symbolism and Functions of Korean Palace Screen Paintings
Yi Song-Mi, professor emerita of art history at the Academy of Korean Studies, explores multiple facets of the Joseon dynasty’s palace screen paintings, many of which are on display in the exhibition Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910. Unlike most contemporary landscape paintings that were done in ink or ink and light colors, screen paintings produced for and used in Korean palaces were mostly executed in brilliant colors. Because research on the art history of Korea during the 20th century has mainly focused on ink paintings, these colorful screen works have been relegated to a "lesser" category of art and have sometimes been labeled "folk paintings." Recent studies, however, of uigwe royal documents as well as other documentary sources have shed light on the identification of themes of the palace screens and their symbolic meanings as well as their specific functions within various state rites. This lecture demonstrates how securely dated documentary evidence such as uigwe “reposition” the colorful screen paintings of the Joseon period.
This lecture is part of Korean Arts Day celebrating the exhibition Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910. The day also includes a concert with Ahn Sook Sun, one of the living cultural assets of South Korea, and a Korean Tea Ceremony by tea master Youngmi Yi.
Image Credit: Unknown artist, Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks, 19th–early 20th century, National Palace Museum of Korea, Photo © National Palace Museum of Korea