Famed calligrapher’s art resonates in two exhibits

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Famed calligrapher’s art resonates in two exhibits


Chusa, the pen name of one of the most talked-about calligraphers from the Joseon Dynasty, Kim Chong-hui, is a rare figure from his time whose art presented universal ideals.
His paintings, which were hugely popular in China, are considered the true birth of hallyu ― the Korean wave.
Akinao Fujitsuka, a Japanese scholar who recently donated works by the late calligrapher for a Korean exhibit, said, “Yonsama charmed Japanese women with the instant hit of his drama ‘Winter Sonata.’ But there was a similar phenomenon in Beijing during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Kim Chong-hui fascinated many Chinese by reflecting the essence of literature in his calligraphy and paintings.”
The historical background of Chusa’s work was based on a world view of art. While calling the people of the Ching dynasty “barbarians,” he studied Chinese classics in his early years at a time when many scholars employed by the government kept their focus on national affairs. Chusa brought life to silhak, the study of practical science that was then popular.
Even after his death, there were unending requests by Chinese scholars to borrow his works for research. The varying themes of his work, which are being presented in five different exhibits across the nation later this year, also focused on the global impact of his work.
“Homecoming Exhibition: Calligraphy of Chusa” at the Gwacheon Cultural Center, which began Friday, is an extensive display of Chusa’s work.
The collection was assembled from works donated by Mr. Fujitsuka, the son of Tsukashi Fujitsuka ― a professor at the Keiji Imperial University during the colonial regime ― and include unpublished letters Chusa sent to his brothers and students. The highlight of the exhibit are books exchanged between Korean and Chinese scholars of the time.
Starting today is a separate exhibit, “Chusa Kim Chong-hui: Peak of Academic Consistency” at the National Museum of Korea. Audiences can see 90 works, a mix of calligraphy and paintings by the late artist, including rarely shown paintings such as “A Winter Scene.” After the show ends in Seoul, it will travel to the National Jeju Museum (Dec. 4 through Jan. 21, 2007).
The Gansong Museum, which owns some of the most coveted works by the late artist, is also exhibiting works by Chusa, including the famous painting, “Chunpung Dae-a.” Starting Oct. 19, Leeum also has an exhibit of works by master painters of the late Joseon Dynasty. As a tribute, the show includes a section of Chusa text and of calligraphers such as Lee Han-cheol and Lee Ha-eung, who were heavily influenced by Chusa’s writings.
The Seoul Arts Center will also display in November calligraphy, paintings and letters Chusa sent to his mother and grandmother.

by Park Jeong-ho
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