On top of the piles of books, a beautifully painted plate is holding a vase. The vase contains three different colors of chrysanthemum. Move slightly upward, fruits sit in the imaginary animals funny-looking face-bowl hybrid. Stationeries like brushes, envelops, papers are neatly organized. The painting is not small but it is so full of a scholars possessions, there is little empty space. These ordinary things are not so easy to recognize at the first sight because of its composition. Normal perspective and arrangement is ignored and painted in a very unique way. Chackgeori (the Scholar’s Accoutrements) is one kind of Minhwa, the painting of the Joseon Dynasty’s ordinary people.
The start of the Minhwa was first a copy. Unknown ammature artists started copying the paintings of the upper class. It has been the major reason for ignoring Minhwa’s value as an art. However repetitive copying lead its way to a new character and humor. Because the artists were not fixed with the stereotypes of the era, they could freely pursue their own modern way of composing the painting. Minhwa was not categorized as the western art nor the eastern art; it stood solely as it is, full of imaginary and ingenuity hard to define in terms.
Time, space and even size are mixed and controlled at the wishes of the painters. Their open mind turned dull objects to something that never existed. Lines are not technically maintained but it is not a mistake but part of the fun and wit. Actually, the paintings are based on very accurate observation when you examine them thoroughly. After careful observation, artists draw with their instincts and feelings. This process has a thread of connection with modern art’s purpose. That is why Minhwa is finally shining brightly in our time with its newly excavated value of sophisticated style and interesting intentions.
Other than Chackgeori, there are various themes of nature, animals, and scenery. Stand in awe of our ancestors talent, Minhwa’s color and compositions will fill up our minds with whimsical feelings and thoughts. Who knows, a little frog from the painting 100 years ago might inspire you the way you have never imagined.