Mystic and Glamorous Exhibition of Goryeo Buddhist Painting

Flushing Town Hall (New York)
Sat Apr 22, 2017 – Wed May 3, 2017

In partnership with New York Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc., this exhibition features the art works of three contemporary Korean artists: Joy Rock, Chang Ho Kang, and Seoung Jo Hyun, who have inherited and developed the spirit and traditional techniques of Goryeo Buddhist Paintings. The genre of Goryeo Buddhist Paintings is one of the highlights of the renaissance in Korean fine arts during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

Opening Reception: SAT, APR 22, 5-7 PM

Lecture & Demonstration: SAT, APR 22, 7-8 PM (Theater)

Gallery Dates: SAT, APR 22 – WED, MAY 3

Gallery Hours: TUE-SUN, 12-5 PM

$5 Suggested Donation/FREE for Members & Students

The art of the Goryeo Dynasty is represented by three distinguished genres: Goryeo Buddhist Painting, Goryeo Pottery, and Goryeo Sutra Transcribing Art. Though Goryeo Pottery is widely known, many people are unfamiliar with Buddhist Painting and Sutra Transcribing Art.

Goryeo was a Buddhist Kingdom that lasted 474 years (from 918 to 1392), and the people of Goryeo had a deep sense of faith in Buddhism and after a 30-year war against the Mongols the people of Goryeo returned to Gaegyeong and produced Buddhist paintings on silk with gold powder. The Buddhist paintings that remain today – about 160 pieces – are all works after Gaegyeong was reestablished as the capital of Goryeo in 1270.

All of those works were painted on top of silk canvasses and hung on walls with hanging poles. Unlike wall paintings, they had the advantage of being hung up only when necessary and were thus mobile. Goryeo Buddhist paintings involved the use of gold powder and the technique of coloring the back of the silk canvas. They are distinguishable by patterns of exquisitely drawn lines.

The three artists whose works will be presented at Flushing Town Hall this Spring have long and distinguished careers focusing on Buddhist Painting. They all received Masters in Fine Arts in Buddhist Painting at Yongin University, currently serve in research roles, and have had their works awards – presented in solo and group exhibitions.


Joy Rock was born in Busan in 1961. While working as a Western-style painter, she was captivated by a Goryeo Buddhist painting of the Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara that she came across by chance in 1999. She was determined to depict the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara in full from, and it has been 18 years since she entered the world of Buddhist paintings, which she began by drawing approximately 2000 ink sketches (initial sketches of Buddhist paintings).

She received a Masters from Yongin University in Goryeo Buddhist paintings and artifact reproduction, and has had the opportunity to reproduce artifacts at the Jung-Jae Conservation Center. She has done six solo exhibitions and approximately 30 invitations and artifact replication works.

Her artifact reproductions are on display at the National Museum of Korea, the Seoul History Museum, and Seoul City Hall. Currently she has opened the Joy Rock Goryeo Buddhist Art Studio, and is the Cultural Asset Reproduction Expert no. 7148 (replication) and no. 7547 (conservation science).

As the primary artist in this exhibition, Joy Rock has submitted for exhibition a total of nearly ten works, including three works of Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara Paintings and two works of Kṣitagarbha Paintings, Amitābha’s Welcoming Descent Paintings, and Vairocana Buddha Paintings. Among these, seven works are reproduced in the same size and technique as the original paintings.

Joy Rock began drawing at a young age, and with the support of her major in Western art, she has acquired her own sense of color, resulting in her evaluation as the best artist among currently active Goryeo Buddhist painting artists. Though many years of training, she is not only able to use stone powder colors and gold paint, but is also able to depict depth of space well considered to be quite challenging.

In particular, she has repeatedly produced the Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara Painting every year, resulting in her work being received as being very elegant in expression with beautiful coloring and a deep sense of space as if it were an original. Anyone interested in Goryeo Buddhist paintings should take notice of the artist Joy Rock.

In this exhibition, the artist Kang Chang-ho displays the Amitābha’s Welcoming Descent Painting and the Triad Amitābha Painting.

By differentiating the technique of painting the back of the canvas and layering stone powder colors according to their colors, he has exerted much effort in bringing to life the texture of the materials. Goryeo Buddhist paintings today have undergone much exfoliation, and their colors have become dark. The artist has repainted the exfoliated parts into good quality images. In terms of color, having considered the contemporary period in which Goryeo Buddhist paintings were produced during the Goryeo Dynasty, he has placed emphasis on coloring brightly and clearly the natural sense of color inherent in the stone powder colors.

Thus he has worked to further elevate the deep sense of dignity and marvel that is felt in Goryeo Buddhist paintings. Finally, the artist Kang Chang-ho has devoted his heart and soul into the gold powder used in Goryeo Buddhist paintings. He has brought out the gold color as clearly as possible by combining gold powder with an appropriate amount of glue. Applying this gold powder to a slender brush, he has made an effort to depict gold lines and golden designs elaborately but also delicately, with vigor, and with smooth, clean lines.

Through this exhibition, the artist Kang Chang-ho hopes to convey the true beauty of Goryeo Buddhist paintings and in addition the greatness and preciousness of Korean cultural assets. He also hopes to convey to the participants of this exhibition a calm sense of emotion.

As a young artist receiving attention in the world of Goryeo Buddhist paintings, Hyun Seung-jo majored in Eastern painting at Yongin University. While first studying by imitating particular famous Korean, Chinese, and Japanese paintings, he became captivated by Buddhist paintings, which are famous traditional paintings in East Asia. Among them, he became fascinated by Buddhist paintings of the Goryeo Dynasty. In this exhibition he has put on display the Amitābha Teaching the Dharma Painting and the Triad Kṣitagarbha Painting.


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