Documenting Temples And Landscapes Before They Are All Replaced By Private Golf Courses

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Documenting Temples And Landscapes Before They Are All Replaced By Private Golf Courses

A special collection of landscape drawings has been published together as a coffee table book. Featuring mountains and rivers near Buddhist temples, the book titled "Cleansing Ears in the Sounds of Chimes" presents over 400 pages of on-site sketches. The images are carefully created in a few gestural strokes of India ink on mulberry paper. The artist produced these drawings while visiting historic temples located throughout the country.

The author and the artist of the book, Lee Ho-sin, began his first series of temple drawings 10 years ago. Since then, he has been regularly publishing his work in the Buddhist Daily Newspaper. Mr. Lee says his initial hope for the project was to "document the precious scenes" of Korean mountains and rivers before they were all replaced by country clubs for golf courses.

He noted, "I had to witness many situations where sacred pagodas and parts of mountains were worn down by cranes to be replaced by parking lots and absurd driveways for tourist attractions." To add to his statement about the disruptions of cultural heritage from the violence of the tourism industry, Mr. Lee said that his journey was taken by foot and on train. He also emphasized that he did not select exact destinations before making trips, relying heavily on situations and accidents.

During his journey, he carried a pair of brushes, a full bottle of black India ink and plenty of mulberry paper. Most of the time he produced only minimal sketches on site, bringing them back to his studio to complete there. When he worked in the studio, everything was based on his memory about the place, which is probably why the images induce a strong sense of nostalgia.

Each chapter carries about 3 to 10 drawings that accompany text in the style of a travelogue. The writings discuss small events occurring on the road to destinations, such as a conversation with a Buddhist monk at a temple, and brief histories of the regions. The images range from the modest black and white sketches of lotus leaves to more sumptuous views of the pines trees on the Taebaek Mountains.

Mr. Lee said that he would stay at the temples overnight and participate in the morning rites. This allowed him to develop a relationship with the place and go beyond simply tracing the surface of the landscape.

For more information about the book, call 02-322-1490 (Korean only). The author will hold an exhibition from April 25 at Artspace Seoul in Sagan-dong.

by Park Soo-mee

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