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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Orchid and Rock
Medium: Hanging scroll: ink on paper
Dimensions: Image: 54 x 26 inches (137.2 x 66 cm); Including mount: 77 × 30 inches (195.6 × 76.2 cm)
Credit Line: Acquired through the Jarett F. Wait, Class of 1980, and Younghee Kim-Wait Endowment for Korean Arts
Object Number: 2013.001.001
Label Text: Seo Byeong-O was a scholar recognized for his poetry, writing, calligraphy, and “Four Gentlemen” themed paintings. He was similarly known for his medicinal and scientific knowledge as well as for being an accomplished performer of the traditional Korean string instrument called the gayaguem, leading to his reputation as a polymath. He was a contemporary and friend of Kim Gyu-jin, whose painting is also on view in this exhibition. Seo’s painting is characterized by a marked contrast between his rendering of the orchid, which uses a combination of wet and light-colored brushwork, and his rendering of the rock, which uses a combination of dry and dark calligraphic brushwork.

The inscription at the top of the painting recalls anecdotes of famous Chinese scholar-officials such as Mi Fu (1051–1107), Huang Tingjian (1045–1105) and Su Shi (1037–1101) from the Song period. Although the inscription’s content continues the traditional theme of meditating on the past, Seo’s calligraphy shows a great freedom of expression that complements his painting style and expresses his individuality as an artist. ("Tradition, Transmission, and Transformation in East Asian Art," curated by Cornell PhD student Yuhua Ding under the supervision of Ellen Avril and presented at the Johnson Museum January 23-June 12, 2016)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.