The tree is expecting the spring

Apr 16, 12 The tree is expecting the spring







I was given the opportunity to travel to Pyongyang, North Korea in September 2011. The art museum was one of the places of interest that we visited. Here I fell in love with one particular painting: The painting of a tree.

I would like to show this painting to you, but unfortunately I couldn’t take any picture of it, because it was not permittedSince I reconstruct the picture solely out of my memory, half a year after I saw it, I’d like to ask for indulgence, if my description is not precise..

The legend of the picture was written only in Korean, therefore I had to ask my Korean guide for the name of the artist and the title of the picture.

The artist’s name is 최 상 철 (Choe Sang Cheol). The picture is named The tree is expecting the spring. It was painted in 1989.

It is a very detailed, colourful painting of a tree placed on a meadow. The tree is in the right half of the painting. Strong branches grow from its thick gnarled trunk, one of which seems to pierce out of the painting. Flowers loosely spring on the grass that extends deep into the painting. Blossoms cautiously shoot on the branches of the tree. Delicate snowflakes fly around the tree and on the meadow and wear off before they reach the ground.

The calm, the relaxation and the patience reflected by the painting make us understand without difficulty its title. If only there wasn’t this one little disruption: both the snow and the blossoming flowers announce the beginning of a season. The flowers announce the spring, the snow announces the winter. This kind of snow is not the one that falls at the end of the winter; it’s the first snow of the year, which brings the winter with it. The winter which almost went away is nowhere to be seen in the painting. The snow that is falling points towards the approaching winter. At the same time the blossoming flowers are pointing towards the approaching spring. We are left with a disruption in our perception of the painting, which is not ignorable. What should the tree expect: spring or winter?

From the very beginning I was fascinated by this painting with its – on first sight – humble subject. The simplicity of the composition meadow – tree. The extended branch opening the painting and welcoming the visitor ; at the same time glancing curiously into the visitor’s world and hoping to be welcomed as well. The title that breathes human emotions into the painting. The interplay between the buds and the snow which complement each other beautifully, but could not possibly be in the same place at the same time, filling the painting with filmy threads of whispering unreality.

If you have the opportunity to visit Pyongyang’s art museum, please let me know, whether you share my impression of the painting of the tree that is waiting for the spring.

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