This Online Exhibition is a joint project of Ewha Womans University Graduate School of Art History and The International Research Center for the Humanities, Graduate School of Humanities, Kyushu University. The exhibition features research on museum collections in both Korea and Japan and was made possible through a close collaboration between the two institutions. The title of the exhibition “Artistic Exchange between Korea and Japan” highlights the long-lasting artistic exchange between the Korean peninsula and the Japanese archipelago. The exhibition is divided into three parts relating to painting, ceramics, and Buddhist art.
The history of cooperation and exchange between Korea and Japan is well-documented in many sources from literature to painting and extends to current collaborative efforts in politics, economy, and culture. We hope that this collaboration between two leading universities to produce a new type of online exhibition will contribute to this fruitful partnership between Korea and Japan and pave the way for further friendship and cooperation in the future.
Joseon envoys initiated the cultural exchange between Joseon and Japan when they travelled to the Japanese archipelago around four hundred years ago and the lines of communication between the two countries have been maintained ever since. This was true even during periods of hostility and outright war. In the aftermath of the Imjin War for example, the diplomatic compound known as “Waegwan” in the Dongnae area (currently Busan) specialized in producing and exporting paintings for trade with Japan to fulfill the demand for Korean paintings in the archipelago. In 2017, UNESCO recognized the “History of Peace Building and Cultural Exchange between Korea and Japan” as recorded by the Joseon envoys to Japan as a “world record heritage” and research on the history of “Waegwan” remains an important field of study up until the present day. The painting section of the exhibition showcases this rich history of cultural exchange through ten artifacts pertaining to the Joseon envoys to Japan in the eighteenth century as well as paintings produced and exported from “Waegwan” in the early nineteenth century. Not only do these artifacts reveal the deep cultural ties between Korea and Japan, they also help us to better understand the role of the Kyushu region as an important hub for travel and trade between the two countries.
Ceramic artifacts document a continuous history of cultural exchange between the Korean peninsula and Japanese archipelago dating back to ancient times. This category of ceramic trade followed many of the same avenues of literary and artistic exchange between the two regions. In the early Joseon dynasty, “Waegwan” played a major role in facilitating the trade of ceramics made in Gyeongsangnam-do to Japan. In particular, Japanese clients sought out Joseon bowls for drinking tea known as dawan or idodawan and incorporated them into Japanese tea culture, or wabi-cha(侘び茶). Large quantities of dawan were exported to Japan and records indicate that Japanese clients made order requests through “Waegwan.” Such was the appetite for Joseon dawan that Japanese ceramicists continued to imitate the style of Korean tea bowls long after production ceased on the Korean peninsula. While there are numerous types of historical exchange in ceramics between the Korean peninsula and Japanese archipelago, the exhibition highlights the unique trade in Joseon dawan and its contribution to Japanese tea culture.
Similarly, Korean ceramicists drew inspiration from Japanese “Arita” porcelain that was imported to Korea in great numbers starting in the seventeenth century. Many examples of white porcelain produced in the late Joseon period feature patterns and deformities that reflect Japanese models. In order to highlight this phenomenon, the exhibition includes examples of both Japanese porcelain made in the seventeenth century and Joseon white porcelain from the late Joseon period.
The ceramic section of the exhibition presents an overview of the pottery trade between Korea and Japan that lasted over half a millennium throughout the Joseon dynasty and highlights the close ties that bind the regions together.
Buddhism has played a crucial role in the cultural exchange between Korea and Japan since ancient times. The rich trove of Buddhist artifacts and literature uncovered in each region illustrates the wide scope and diverse character of Buddhist interactions between the two countries. The Buddhist Art section of the exhibition features ten representative artifacts that highlight the multifaceted ways in which Korea and Japan navigated the religious ties that formed a complex part of their historical relationship. Well-known artifacts including the Bodhisattva in Pensive Position (半跏思惟像), the Korean Tripiṭaka (大藏經), and the Dharma Paintings (達磨圖) speak to the growing influence of material culture and inter-cultural exchange in formulating a new type of Buddhist art. In addition, lesser-known pieces such as the Thousand Buddha Statues from Daeheungsa (大興寺) in Haenam and the collection of the Kyushu National Museum are rare examples that shed light on the direct transmission of Buddhist art between Korea and Japan. Finally, the exhibition also highlights accidental incidents of cultural exchange such as trade vessels that unintentionally drifted into neighboring regions as well as the transmission of artifacts in the modern art market due to purchases and donations.
The Buddhist art section of the exhibition attempts to introduce key themes related to the complex exchange of Buddhist art between Korea and Japan throughout a long and tumultuous history. The exhibition not only provides the opportunity to explore these specific topics in great depth, it also encourages the viewer to reflect on how these historical themes may help to shape future exchanges between the two countries.
본 온라인 전시 프로젝트는 규슈대학 인문과학연구원 인문학 국제연구센터의 협력으로 이화여자대학교 대학원 미술사학과 학생들이 조사, 연구, 구축하였습니다.
This Online Exhibition project was researched and created by the art history graduate students at Ewha Womans University (Seoul, Korea)
with the support and collaboration of the International Research Center for the Humanities, Graduate School of Humanities, Kyushu University.