Kim Hyun Kyung

South Korea

I use bamboo as my subject.
Bamboo is one of the “Four Gracious Plants (Four Gentlemen)” in the Asian culture.
The four plants – the plum blossom, the orchid, the chrysanthemums and the bamboo – were all chosen for their distinct characteristics and each holds its own symbolism. The plum blossom, flower of the spring, represents the unrelenting spirit of the literati scholar as it bursts even in cold weather. The orchid is fragrant plant that diffuses elegant aroma in the summer in the high mountains. It symbolizes the moral virtues of the scholar. The chrysanthemums, blooming into graceful scent and form in the late fall, stands for the fidelity and integrity in the face of adversities. Lastly, the bamboo, the plant of the winter, is seen as the embodiment of the unwavering principles and honor of the upright scholar.
The Four Gracious Plants were the ideal metaphors of the moral values that the ancient scholars wanted to achieve through selfdiscipline.
Of the four plants, I am particularly interested in the bamboo both for its symbolism and its aesthetic aspects; the strong linear lines of the stem that appears strengthened in the bamboo woods, and the leaves that show the movements resembling that of an orchestra conductor when the wind blows. Also, the sound of the bamboos brushing against each other in the wind clears my mind. I sometimes draw bamboos inside the moon. The silhouettes of the trees in the moon represent my longings and wishes. In the traditional Korean culture, we pray to the moon on the night of the first full moon of the year, and it is in this spirit that I depict the bamboos in the moon. I also bring the effect of light or rain into my pictures that they seep through the bamboos. I believe that the bamboos reflect myself and that they will mature as my mind and thoughts do.

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