Anonymous. Korean 19th century. Late Joseon period.
Pair of hanging scrolls. Ink on paper.
Signature: Chikuzan 竹山
Upper seal: Unread
Lower seal: Chikuzan 竹山
Each scroll: H. 158 cm x W. 35 cm (62” x 14”)
Each image: H. 125 cm x W. 30 cm (49” x 12”)
In this ink painting of grapevines the artist goes directly and decisively to the point with a visual frankness that is the cornerstone of Korean painting. The composition is immediate and intimate, reflecting a spiritual state quite removed from the grandeur and remoteness of Chinese models. The grapevine cascades downwards, laden with clusters of ripe grapes. Both subtle and bold changes in the density of ink define the leaves, stems and fruit, which have been brushed without the use of outlines. The painting exhibits unmistakable playfulness and originality which encourages close visual engagement with the subject. An aura of abundance and prosperity, the ultimate aim of the painting, is clearly projected.
It is the work of an unknown Korean literati painter. Due to a rarity of preserved Korean works and associated documentation this is commonly the case. For the Korean literati class, set in Confucianism, life’s focus was writing and calligraphy and studying Chinese classics and poetry. Painting was a pleasant diversion, a natural extension of skill at using the brush.
The paintings have recently been restored and remounted in Kyoto, Japan. They have been presented according to Korean tradition.