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Korean Calligraphy and Ink Painting

Exhibition of Work by Minja Lee in University Library of Freie Universität / Opening Workshop on February 29, 2016

№ 052/2016 from Feb 23, 2016

Forty works – ink paintings and calligraphic art – by the artist Misan, alias Minja Lee will be on display in the University Library of Freie Universität from February 29 through April 29, 2016. The exhibition will be opened on February 29, 2016: After a few words of welcome by the director of the library, Jiri Kende, the economist Prof. Dr. Dr. Sung-Jo Park, who taught at Freie Universität for several decades, will give an introduction to the exhibition. Afterwards visitors will have an opportunity to try out ink drawing in the Korean style. The opening event is public, and admission is free. Admission is also free for viewing the exhibition.

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.

Press Image

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)

Further Information

Dr. Susanne Rothe, University Library, Freie Universität, Tel.: +49 30 838-533 59, Email: