Flowers for Kim Il Sung, supra realism paintings, of the Democratic people’s Republic of Korea

Explanatory Note for the paintings in the Exhibition “Flowers for Kim Il Sung, Art and Architecture from the Democratic people’s Republic of Korea”

Leader, you are near at the forefront (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). The painting depicts President Kim Il Sung, who came to the forefront to visit the Korean People’s Army soldiers during the Korean war (1950-1953), thus revealing his lofty characters and bold heart, as well as the strong desire of the Koreans for the safety of their leader. A young girl soldier is wholeheartedly asking the supreme commander not to go further on, saying, ”Leader, you are near at the forefront”. She was very much worried for his safety. Notwithstanding her request, however, the supreme commander is going to the forefront, answering that he came to the forefront to see the brave KPA soldiers and they are waiting for him. The depiction of the girl soldier gives a true expression of the entire Korean army and people who sincerely desire the safety of their leader. The painter tried to express the severity of the war through the surrounding hills and muddy, ragged road to the front, as well as the confidence in the future victory in the war thru the bright smile of Kim Il Sung.

The painting was applied with the traditional Korean painting (Chosonhwa-painting) technique to give a concrete depiction of figures and environments.

Together on the path for the people (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting)
President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il have been constantly visiting people on the train-to-people for the sake of their happiness.

The painting provides a moving scene of the two leaders on the path to visit people in a snowing mid-night at a far-off mountainous railway station. It also gives a vivid portrayal of leader Kim Jong Il, who devotes every effort to lessen off the burdens from the shoulders of the President Kim Il Sung.

The painter applied the abbreviation skill of the traditional Korean painting (Chosonhwa-painting) technique; the white snow blowing in the wind is the color of the original paper, while contrasting the yellow light from the windows of the train againt the dark color of the mid-night.

Leader Kim Jong Il among the heroic builders of the Songun (military-first) Era (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). The painting depicts leader Kim Jong Il visiting a hydraulic power-station construction site to encourage the soldier-builders. With a refreshing and extensive view of the water-dam as a backdrop, it is giving a stereo-like scene of the construction site, while portraying a benevolent countenance of Leader Kim Jong Il among the Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldiers with confident and reverential faces towards their Supreme Commander.

In Korea, government priority is being given to the construction of the hydraulic power plantations of various sizes, in order to solve the electricity problem. At present, a gigantic hydraulic power-station, called Huichon Power Station, is under construction, to which numerous soldiers were mobilised so as to finish the project by the year 2012. This year alone saw several visits by Kim Jong Il to the construction site, who encouraged the solider-builders, highly praising them for the miracle-like work they had done during the construction.

Kim Jong Il, the Supreme Commander of the KPA, deeply concerned over the soldiers’ diet (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). Regardless of any unit he visits, one of the first concerns of Kim Jong Il, the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is the diet of the people of the unit. The painting depicts Leader Kim Jong Il visiting the dining room of a KPA unit, which has much improved the diet of its soldiers. In the painting you can see the excited and reverential look of the soldiers, who are much moved by the fatherly love of their Supreme Commander personally opening the lid of the oven to see what food they are cooking.

Leader Kim Jong Il always stresses to the officers of the KPA to pay attention to improving the life condition of the soliders.

With the instructions of their supreme commander deep in mind, the KPA officials are endeavoring hard to improve the dietary and cultural life of the soldiers.

The endlessly burning light of the Party Center (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). The painting reflects the tireless efforts of Leader Kim Jong Il, who spent day and night to fomulate the immortal Juche idea as Kimilsungism in the 1970s.Leader Kim Jong Il gave a classic formulation of Juche Idea as Kmilsungism as a systemic integration of Juche-oriented ideology, theory and methodology.

Through the depiction of piles of works of President Kim Il Sung and other reference books on the desk, the painter tried to present to the viewers the restless efforts and genius of the great theoretician.

The painter gave much consideration to the depiction of the figure, applying a fine-depiction skill of the traditional Chosonhwa painting (Korean Painting) technique, while meeting perspective requirements.

Thanks to the General a new era began in the Hanture Plain (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). In the DPR Korea, priority is being given to increasing the country’s agricultual products. As a result, numerous projects have been planned and implemented all over the coutry, which included tideland reclamation, new land cultivation, canal-making, etc. In the late 1990s, a project of enlarging the small patches of paddy fields (called ‘Field-resizing’) was personally initiated by Leader Kim Jong Il and performed all over the country.

The painting depicts in an accumulative way the advantages of the field-resizing campaign, as well as the beautiful scenery of the Korean farms, which are shaking off the backwardness of the past days. Under the wise leadership of Leader Kim Jong Il, the enlarged paddy fields made it possible for the introduction of a great variety of farming machines in the fields, thus yielding a lot more crops every year. The painting depicts an excited old peasant expressing gratitude to the Leader for their easy work of using farming machines in the enlarged paddy fields.

This painting is one of the masterpieces represenitng the realistic nature of the Korean contemporary art. The painter made a big gap between the close view and the distant view to give a strong feeling of stereo effect of the whole scene.

President Kim Il Sung and a peasant (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting)
The artwork was created based upon a true story after the Korean War (1950-1953). On a day right after the war, President Kim Il Sung visited a farm village to inspect the life conditions of the peasants. During the visit, he met a peasant who lost all of his family members except his grandson, the only surviver from the savageous American bombing. He left the village after the visit. However, so much disheartened by the story of the peasant, he came back to the village and spent one night at his house to console and encourage him.The painting presents with a vividness the unassuming and modest character of President Kim Il Sung through the depiction of him lying on a quilt mattress like an old friend as well as the reverential and awe look and gestures of the the host-peasant.

A visit at a farmstead (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). President Kim Il Sung devoted whole of his life to the wellfare of the people, sharing ups and downs with them. The painting depicts President Kim Il Sung visiting a farmer’s house to see how the life standard of the farmer is. The President is kindly asking the aged lady of the house how many eggs the hens give a day, how many the family members are, thus encouraging her to feed more paultry and grow more vegetables to improve the food life.
The painter effectively applied the unique Korean painting technique to give a bright and clear scene in general.

The bell toilling on the road to the frontline (Chosonhwa-painting/Korean painting).Since the mid-1990s, Korea has suffered much difficulty due to successive natural disasters and sanctions imposed by the imperialists.
In such circustances, Leader Kim Jong Il decided to strengthen the army and constantly visited the Korean People´s Army (KPA) units to safeguard the destiny of the country and people. Through the depiction of Kim Jong Il taking a short break on the way to the front, looking at the far-off village schoolchildren playing happily in the schoolyard after the rest-bell rang. Throughout the ragged mountains behind him you can see a long and steep mountain road he has yet to cover. The painter tried to show how hard Kim Jong Il was trying to safeguard the happy life of the coming generation. The depiction of figures and natural environment was done in such a way as to meet the emotion of the winter, using a Chosonhwa painting (Korean painting) technique.

We will follow only the Great leader with a firm belief (Oil painting).The painting was created greeting the 70th annivasary of President Kim Il Sung. It is based on a true story occurred at a poll station in Thaesong-ri, Kangso County, South Phyongan Province in the 1950s. In the late 1950s, the internal and external political and economic situation of Korea was very complicated. On a day of the year 1957, President Kim Il Sung, who dropped by at the poll station of Thaesong-ri, met the voters and talked with them about their daily lives. At that time, an aged woman stepped forward to the President, and said; Dear President, we always support you….
Many years later, President Kim Il Sung recalled the hard days of the 1950s and said the aged lady gave him a great encourage for overcoming the challenges of the time.

President Kim Il Sung among the artists (Oil painting). The painting depicts President Kim Il Sung in his talk with the artists. In the meeting, President Kim Il Sung stressed the points that the artists create more masterpieces in the field of art on the principle of Juche, and they should reflect the reality of Korea as well as the emotions of the Koreans. In Korea, artworks are created on the princple of national in form and socialistic in contents. Just as the foods of a foreign country are not accustomed to the Koreans, artworks can only be masterpieces, when they meet the emotion and feeling of the Koreans.

The great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung among the children (Oil painting). The painting portrays the noble personality of President Kim Il Sung, who loved children very much, always calling them the “kings of the country”. In the painting, President Kim Il Sung is surrounded by the children of various characters who have no awe at all towards the top leader of the country. The painting shows how close the ties between the people and the leader, which turned the whole country into a big harmonious family.

Therefore, one of the most popular songs sung by the Korean children is as follows;

Blue is the Sky
Merry is my heart
Sound of accordion fly high
We love this country where people live harmoniousy
Our father is Marshal Kim Il Sung
Our home is the Party’s bosom

Immortal flowers (Oil painting). The main subject of the painting is the two famous flowers - Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia which were named after President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, to show the greatness of the leaders who have created the immortal Juche idea and enriched its contents throughout the time.Kimilsungia was gifted to President Kim Il Sung in 1965 by Sukharno, former Indonesian President, while Kimjongilia by Kamo Mototeru, a Japanese florist in 1988. In Korea, a large-scale Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia Festival is held every April.

Farm in May (Chosonhwa-painting/Korean painting. This painting was apllied with various colors in the depiction of flowers, cocks, parrots, grass, trough, etc. - one of the traditonal techniques of Chosonhwa-painting (Korean Painting). It bears a calm and peaceful atmosphere of a Korean farm right after the Korean War (1950-1953).

Kosong people assisting the front (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting). The Kosong County, Kangwon Province was famous for the local peoples’ devoted assistance to the forefront during the Korean War (1950-53).The people in this area carried ammunitions and logistics to the battle heights, risking their lives in the shower-like bombing by the American planes. The painter, using a vigorous one-stroke brushing technique, (unique to the Korean painting), provides a vivid feeling of the grimness and severity of the warfare as well as the indomitable will of Kosong people facing audaciously all harshness of the war. The white color of the paper was used to depict the winter scene, while one-stroke brushing applied for the depiction of figures.

The photo of the son (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean painting).In Korea, the national defence is regarded as one of the most sacred obligations of the citizens. The painting depicts a happy lady peasant showing to her fellow peasants a photo of her son, who was praised for his good service in the army to have the honorable photograph taken. Through the depiction of the happy faces of the peasants, the painter the stressed the public attitude of the Korean society towards the military affairs.

Daughter (Oil painting). The painting depicts a scene from a poor Korean farmer’s family during the Japanese colonial rule (1910 –1945).
Without her husband, she has to do backbreaking farming in the loan patch to feed her 3 children. She has no money to pay back her landlord. The landlord is asking to pay off the debt or give her daughter to him for a security of the debt. She has no choice but send her dear daughter to the landlord to sustain the family. The red ribbon she made all night is the only thing she can give to her daughter to be sold. Her daughter, who knows well what would happen to herself if she goes to the landlord’s, is crying bitterly, pleading her mother not to send her. Her mother, however, cannot say anything, with her face full of grief and anger. Her younger son is looking at his mother and sister with a scared look since he can understand, though not enough, something unhappy happened to them. The landlord, seated himself on the doorsill is waiting to take her to his house with a cunning and satisfied grin. The depiction of the loan documents and an abacas at a corner of the room add to the story. The whole scene is painted in dark to stress the sad feeling of the episode. This painting is assessed in Korea as one of the masterpieces for its excellent application of the advantages of the oil painting technique to the depiction.

Korea is one (Oil painting). The painting reflects the unanimous wish of all Koreans for the reunification of the country. A young girl teacher who lives in Japan is showing her indicator finger to the class saying that Korea is one. The coming generation has not suffered the tragedy of the national division, and even they don’t know why the country is divided and who is to blame for the tragedy. It is most important for them to know clearly about the reunification issues. In the respect of the painting technique, it is unique in applying the method of overlaying the small-dot color layers,clearly revealing the individual character of the painter.

Song of victory (Oil painting). The painting was inspired by the episodes from the Korean War (1950-1953). During the war, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldiers would have a concert in trenches with the musical instruments made by themselves. American planes, tanks and guns fired all day to the height the KPA soldiers were securing, but they had merry times in the sheltered trenches dancing and playing music. Through the depcition of a KPA soldier tuning the violin he made himself, the painter sought to express the KPA soldiers’ revolutionary optimism and confidence in victory. The oil painting tehcnique was well applied to give a vivid life to the scene.

Friday (Oil painting). In Korea, all the white-color workers are going to assist public projects such as reinforcing the river embankent on Fridays. This is regarded as patriotic and honorable work for the citizens, and in some cases events or ceremonies are precedes.

Master (Oil painting). In August 1945, Korea was liberated from the Japanese colonial rule. The owenership of the factories shifted from the Japanese to the Korean workers, who suffered hard persecution and exploitation from their former oweners. The happiness of the workers freed from the Japanese yoke and the pride of becoming the masters of the factory as well as themselves are expressed in bright orange tint throughout the whole scene. In the scene the contrast between the close view and distant view is quite strong. The painter is now in his 30s and is assessed in Korea as one of the promising young artists. He also created the oil painting ‘Sunflower’ , which is exhibited in this exhibition.

The third enemy (Oil painting). The painting depicts a sniper wating for the enemy to come up during the Korean War (1950-1953). The composition of figures and surroundings were well considered. The upper part of the figure depicted in the center of the scene, while painting all surroundings white, so as to make the figure conspicuous, all of which make viewers feel that the sniper is very satisfied with the third target.

Jogori (traditional Korean woman’s dress, Oil painting). This painting is based upon a true story occurred in the early 21st century in Japan. A young Korean girl living in Japan wasn violently attacked by a Japanese scoundrel for no other reason than that she was wearing Jogori, a traditional Korean costume. Every nation has its own traditional costume. Then why is the national costume the subject of the violence? The girl feels more pain in the heart than in the skin. The strong anger and sadness is expressed in the eyes of the figure and the dark red dot-touch color of the background scene.

Evening glow over Kangson (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean Painting). The creation of this painting was directly initiated and guided by Leader Kim Jong Il. In Nampo city, not far from Pyongyang, is the Kangson Steel Works. This factory is one of the most leading steel producing complexes in the DPR Korea. In the late 1950s the factory produced steel twice as much as the scheduled amount, which sparked the high speed of production rate. So this factory became a symbol of national economy development in Korea. The painter made the whole scene red in this painting, which has an interesting story. One day the painter was talking together with a young steel worker, who has just finished his work and returned home. The worker suddenly asked the painter how the sky looks to him. The painter did not notice what he meant, and answered that the the sky is blue. The worker said, ‘To my eyes, the sky looks red’. The painter, inspired by his answer, could finish the painting. The painting well reflects the enthusiasm and spirit of the Koreans. This painting is assessed as one of the top masterpieces in Korea. The painting gave rise to the creation of the artwork of similar topics in other spheres of art in Korea, such as dances, films, novels of the same title.

Guardsmen (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean Painting). Right after the liberation of Korean from the Japanese colonial rule in 1945, the political situation of Korea was very complicated and the various political groups were using every kind of means including terrorism to grasp the political hegemony in Korea. In this situation, the foremost task of the guardsmen which was organised with the anti-Japanese guerillas as the main core, was to thoroughly safeguard the headquarter of the revolution led by General Kim Il Sung. Through the depiction of the various tense look of the three guardsmen riding on horses with the Party center building at their back, the painter gives a true life to strenuous work of the first guardsmen in Korea. The unique Korean painting technique is well applied in the depiction of the figures and surrounding environments.

A boy learning letters in a guerilla base (Chosonhwa-painting or Korean Painting). The painting depicts a part of the life in an anti-Japanese guerilla base in the 1930s. A farmer could have his own land for farming and his grandson could learn Korean thanks to General Kim Il Sung. They are feeling very happy and grateful to the guerilla army commander. According to the traditional Korean painting technique, the painter bravely abbreviated the background using the original white color of the paper, while giving a refreshed depiction of the figure using a various thickness of one-stroke brushing skill, to make a concise description of formal and structural features.

Mother’s wish (Pastell). The painter created this work figuring his grandmother in the signature campaign for support on the tripartite talk for reunification of Korea which was broadly waged in the late 1980s in Japan. Every minute, the old generation is feeling the acute pain of half-century-long division of the nation due to foreign powers. Through the depiction of an aged lady who came out to the street for national reunification on a snowing day, the painting relays the urgent need for the struggle for the Korea’s reunification. The painter is well appying the material characteristics of the pastell. To give a true life of the depiction, he first painted with pastell and applied the rubbing method of faces of the figures and background scene.

Pride (Oil painting). The painting depicts a Korean girl living in Japan, who is feeling proud of being a Korean with the poster she pasted on a glass wall. The poster is about Jong Song Ok, the North Korean female marathon champion in the 1997 Barocelona Female Marathon Championship. She seems to look back the bitter past when a Korean marathoner Son Ki Jong ran first to become a champion in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, who, however, had to step up on the winner’s rostrum with the Japanese flag on his chest because Korea was the Japanese colony at that time. The characteristics of this painting is the less application of the painted layers, and the depiction of the glass reflection of many interested people looking at the posters to give an impression of large size of the scene, while the painting itself is not large.

Blue sky (Acrylic painting). The painting was created based upon a popular contemporary Korean song titled “ Blue Sky of My Country”

The words of the song go as follows,

1. Over my home village hill where the beautiful dandelion blooms out,
I would play with a white kite flying high in the sky in my childhood.
Oh, never I imagined at that time the blue sky I would gaze up,
Is itself just our pride of my country.

3. The sky is over every country and everywhere,
I can’t find more blue sky than mine anywhere.
Oh, I will forever live under the blue sky over my country,
Where the benevolent sun and stars are shining brightly.

Through the depiction of the blue sky endlessly stretched over young children gazing at it, the painting expresses the wish of the new generation for peace and better future. In this painting the blue sky is symbolic of peace and future the current generation should safeguard at any cost for the young generation.

This painting was awarded the first prize from among over 500 fine art pieces in the 2005 National Fine Art Exhibtion in Pyongyang.

The day breaks

Agriculture is a season-catching work. The two tractor drivers are relaxing after all-night work to complete the scheduled ploughing plan. Through the description of the excited and proud faces and gestures of the figures looking at the dawning sky, the painter tried to present the responsible and diligent workers of the Korean farm.

He himself worked together with the tractor drivers in the farm to paint them. With the figures placed in the center of the scene, the dawning sky was painted red-orange, contrasting to the dark-brown color of the ploughed earth which seems to smell of the earth.
My classroom

The painting depicts an aged music professor and a girl student who are composing a song by piano. The girl student has just come back from the front after the end of the war (Korean War, 1950-1953). They seem to recall the hard days of the wartime as well as those classmates who could not come back alive to the conservatory. How happy their university lives were and how many could not come back! The old professor and his student are in deep meditation to compose a new song on the new life recalling the past days, while through the window livley post-war reconstruction is seen in a distant view on the scorched earth from the war.

The dark brown tint of the whole room, reflection of the figures in the piano-lid well contrast to the brighter and light blue and yellow tint of the outside rehebilitation scene, which present together the grimness of the war and the hope in the future no-war life.

Traditional Ox Market

The traditional Korean genre painting technique has been well applied to humorously depict the typical Korean ox market in the 19th century. In the picture there are various depictions of people trading the oxen, which was one of the most important means for agriculture in the 19th century in Korea. Each depiction of the trading scene differ from the other, where every people

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