Temples of South Korea

What has art to do with the soul?  My upbringing would have said nothing.  The Buddhist and Catholic child would have marveled at a different world and different set of values. My year in South Korea brought this home to me.

Yuongpyeongsa and Buddha

Yuongpyeongsa and Buddha

 

It is colours that struck me first –  the roof beams a palette of primaries, lovingly, painstakingly, applied.

Bongeunsa portal roof

Bongeunsa portal roof

Inside, as always, the Buddha figure is central, in bright gold overlay, often with two bodisattvas, flanking. Westerners need perhaps to be told that the genuflections of Buddhists do not imply worship, but respect and honour.

Gyeongju interior

Gyeongju interior

Temples are almost all built in the curled roof tradition, iconic for the East. Inside there are tapestries, sculpture and paintings that illustrate the life of Buddha or parables, together with sacred paraphernalia like the mutak, a wooden instrument that is struck to structure services.

Magoksa portal roof

Magoksa portal roof

Approaching the temples the pilgrims go through portals, also beautifully decorated.  At some temples there are protective structures that shelter Silla bells.  The Silla bells, about a head taller than a person, were cast in the Three Kingdoms period (circa 500 – 1000  c.e.)  It is a special moment to hear the bell being struck by the wooden beam made for the purpose.  On one such bell, were engraved the words To be heard at the ends of the earth.   And it’s true – years later I still hear it here in South Africa.

  A Silla bell at Bisan-ri

A Silla bell at Bisan-ri

 

© Will v.d.Walt

July, 2007 – June 2008

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Images

Will

 

 

 

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Musée Peynet

The drawings of Raymond Peynet (1908-1999) interested me as a child – the little man with his round black hat (a Chaplinesque bowler?) and spikey hair and his girlfriend, demure and lovely – the essence of romance, a mix of innocence and risque.

The artist came to live in Antibes, acquiring a place for him and his wife in the neighbouring town of Biot.  He and his wife, people say with envy, were married for more than 50 years and her name, appropriately, was Damour.  And there is greater affection for his memory than for that of Picasso. A small museum to honour him was set up on the Place de la Republique.  Hand in hand, Claudie and I did our pilgrimage to it.

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Les Amoureax

Most people associate Peynet with the commercialising of his work.  It is often seen as sentimental, saccharine, cute, but it’s more subtle than that.  Les Amoureux (The Lovers) are the chief focus and the variations on this theme since the 1930s are bewildering – he’s even done a series on the astrology icons with the lovers!

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Les Remparts drawn by Peynet

In the museum they had an exhibition too, with the work of other caricaturists – Ronald Searle; Honoré Daumier and others.  One painted caricature that really impressed me was of different types of cheese in the uncanny form of Charles de Gaulle’s profile.  The idea, of course, comes from Acrimboldo.  This caricature probably refers to De Gaulle’s statement as the president that it is difficult to govern a nation that has more than 246 cheeses!

Humour conquers all, a wall legend in the museum by Paul Klee tells us.  What strikes me with Peynet is that all he does is inhabited by a smile.  With the pain, anguish and tragedy of life, there is someone who will relentlessly seek out human warmth.

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Raymond Peynet

On the way back, strolling through the Saturday crowds, I saw what I had previously missed when I went that way out of the vieille ville – the monument to the martyrs of the French Resistance, an image that touches, but it couldn’t quite banish Peynet’s doves that alight on the little man’s black hat as he cradles his beloved.

What remains with me too, is the plaque in the museum informing us that, in 1995, with the 50th annual memorial service of Hiroshima, the Japanese unveiled a bronze depicting The Lovers at the site of one of humanity’s greatest desolations.

© Will v.d.Walt

Samedi  14 Janvier 2012

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Image Sources: by Will and  www.peynet.com

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