Like everything else the, fragmentation of the Korean Peninsula has affected Korean Paintings too. The conflict has indeed destroyed much of the artwork of this region. Despite these problems, Korean art is fascinating because although it has been deeply influenced by Chinese art, the most productive periods in terms of art often do not coincide between the two countries.
History of Korean Painting
One can find the earliest Korean paintings in the area of Lelang and these paintings date back to about 108 B.C. The Pyongyang museum has beautifully painted baskets depicting numerous figures demonstrating religious figures. These paintings prove that painting was a well-developed art form even at this early date.
The two styles of Korean Painting
Korean painting has seen a constant separation of monochromatic works of black brushwork on very often mulberry paper or silk; and the colourful folk art or min-hwa, ritual arts, tomb painting. These two genre are the most distinctive ones of the rich tradition of Korean paintings.
The Chinese Influence
Korean painting was greatly influenced by Chinese artists of the Southern Song academy during the middle ages. The Korean artists internalized the Chinese style of this period and gave them their own interpretation. In general these paintings have elements of far distance in their compositions rather than confining attention to the foreground, as often was the case in most Ming dynasty paintings.
Korean artists made this style their own by focusing on the day-to-day activities of normal people. They employed the technique of direct observation to render some highly original works.
Korean painting has over the years adhered to Chinese models but also has managed to crave a unique niche for itself in the world of art.
Today as Korea marches into the 21st Century, its artists can confidently look back on a tradition of painting that is both rich and unique.