Minja Lee grew up in Japan, where she lived with her Korean parents. For the past fifty years she has been living in Berlin as a medical doctor and artist. She has been doing ink painting for many years, and after retiring from her job in 2010, she perfected her skills by training with various masters of Zen and calligraphy.
Korean calligraphy, called seoye, is based on the early calligraphy of China in the 3rd to the 6th century (AD) and traditional Korean art. "In China calligraphy is not only the art of beautiful writing, but also serves the study and dissemination of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism," says Minja Lee. Calligraphy with this content is also common in Korea. Although a separate Korean alphabet has existed since the 15th century, Chinese characters have remained dominant in Korean calligraphy. "The so-called sagunsa, the four kings, are of great importance for Korean and East Asian ink painting: they are the cherry blossom and orchid (or iris), bamboo, and chrysanthemum. They symbolize spring, beauty, and the fidelity of the nobility to the king," continues Minja Lee. Additionally, the pine tree is the motif for faithfulness and constancy. The characters and images are written and painted on tissue paper with ink.
"In her works Minja Lee takes these traditional designs along with designs from her Berlin environment and with great poetic sensitivity processes them in her own style," says Prof. Dr. Young Moon Byun from Korea University in Seoul. The origin of her artistic world is not in a single poem, but in the constant search for internal and external creative activity.
Bamboo, ink painting by Minja Lee; Image credit: Melanie Groger
The image may be downloaded free of charge and reproduced by media representatives for use in the context of the press release, provided credit is given to "Minja Lee, Foto Melanie Groger."
Time and Location
- Exhibition opening: Monday, February 29, 2016, 7 p.m.
- Exhibition dates: Monday, February 29 through Friday, April 29, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- University Library, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystraße 39, 14195 Berlin. subway station: Thielplatz (U3)