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Intoxicating poppy flower paintings

Like the woman of the same name who was known to have been one of the four beauties of ancient China, the “Yang Guifei,” or “poppy flower,” was so mesmerizingly beautiful that he stopped short and stared for a long time.

Artist Kwon In-su, who had never really been into flowers before, was totally captivated by the flower and ended up opening a solo exhibition entirely dedicated to it.

“It was a temptation that could not be overlooked. I accidently encountered the flower on my way out from a restaurant in the suburbs and was unable to resist the overwhelming beauty of it. I could not stop thinking about it even after I returned to my studio,” Kwon told The Korea Herald.

The South Korean artist is showcasing about 35 poppy flower paintings at the exhibition “Fallen for YangGuifei” at Pyunghwa Gallery in Myeong-dong, central Seoul.
“YangGuifei” by Kwon In-su (Kwon In-su)
“YangGuifei” by Kwon In-su (Kwon In-su)

Kwon, who received a B.A. from Seoul National University of Art and an M.A. from Hongik University of Art, both for oriental painting, is well-known for his lyrical nature-themed oriental paintings. He has held over 100 solo exhibitions and his works are found on the cover of many books, packages and campaigns.

His poppies at the exhibition appear to be much simpler than the actual flowers. The colors, however, are more seductive. Imbued in spring-like and dreamy colors such as pale pink, watery purple and deep magenta, the flowers deceive the eyes as if blooming right on the white “hanji,” or Korean traditional mulberry paper.

“After hours of looking, I found out that the flower was beautiful not only on the outside but also on the inside. The harmony of its stamens and pistils was beautiful, having me think about the nobleness of life and birth. To express the most of its natural beauty, I simplified it so that viewers can see it as if they were looking directly at its face. I got rid of the additional elements like the light and shadows,” said Kwon.

“It would be nice to enjoy a few minutes of oblivion, gazing at the enchanting figure of Yang Guifei.”

The exhibition runs through March 29 at Pyunghwa Gallery in Myeong-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 727-2336~7.

By Park Min-young  (