ART OF SAGYEONG
APRIL 3 - MAY 3, 2014
OEGIL KIM KYEONG-HO
Demonstration workshop: Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Opening reception: Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm
Co sponsored by Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation
Gallery HO is pleased to present Art of 사경 (Sagyeong; 寫經), a rare installation of the Korean traditional illuminated Buddhist sutra by Oegil Kim Kyeong-ho. Organized by Korea Art Forum and co-sponsored by Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, the exhibition opens on Thursday, April 3 and runs through May 3, 2014. There will be a demonstration workshop of making Sagyeong on Saturday, April 12 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. followed by an artist reception.
Sagyeong designates both the manual transcription process of the Buddhist sutras, scriptures of Buddha’s short dicta, and the product of this act of transcription. It is comparable to the tradition of manually transcribed religious texts of the Bible in Christianity and the Qu’ran in Islam. Because the process of creating Sagyeong requires intense concentration and strict techniques, it is regarded as the finest guidance to self-discipline. Artistically, it involves literature, iconography and design based on calligraphy; spiritually, it is a pious deed of religious practice for meditating and purifying one’s mind in quietude and with devotion.
Having been introduced to Korea in the early fourth century, Sagyeong has 1700 years of rich history. Development of Sagyeong thrived during Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392), for nearly 500 years, where the entire Tripitaka, Buddhist scriptures, of around 6,000 books of Buddhist scriptures were produced more than ten times in woodblock printing or gold and silver powder. The production of Sagyeong reached its pinnacle in the 12th and 13th centuries when the Buddhist scriptures, Tripitaka Koreana (or Palman Daejanggyeong), were carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks from 1236 to 1251. This collection of scriptures is now a world heritage preserved in Haeinsa, a Buddhist temple in South Korea. With its wide practice at the time, Sagyeong became one of the three cultural legacies representing Goryeo Dynasty along with celadon and Buddhist paintings.
The tradition of Sagyeong in Korea was nearly destroyed during Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) with the anti-Buddhist policy. Oegil Kim Kyeong-ho is an artist and scholar who revived the tradition of Sagyeong through intensive research, restoration and reinterpretation. Gallery HO and the exhibition organizers have collaboratively organized Art of Sagyeong and invited Oegil Kim Kyeong-ho, the only Sagyeong specialist appointed by the Korean government, to present his representative work, a once in a lifetime achievement.
Kim Kyeong-ho’s Sagyeong is not a mere copy or restoration of traditional Sagyeong. Developing from the old heritage, the artist has created a new form of Sagyeong that shows his own aesthetic sensibility and speaks to us in the present time.
Awe-inspiring and magnificent for its miniscule, delicate and precise details, Kim Kyeong-ho’s Sagyeong shows a sophisticated and advanced knowledge of working with gold powder, brush and paper as well as calligraphy. Requiring an immense degree of physical strength and spiritual power, his art instantly commands close attention and offers a spiritual moment of contemplation in this age where the mental life is often distracted and unfocused with information overload, mass media and advanced technology. With its symbolic meanings of texts and iconography, Art of Sagyeong invites us to partake in a calm, spiritual and utopian world of concentrated mind, reflecting on our own lives in relation to other people and to the infinite universe.
Oegil Kim Kyeong-ho is a poet, calligrapher, and artist who has devoted himself to the continuation of the rare art and technique of Sagyeong for the last 30 years. He is the author of An Introduction to Sagyeong, the first unique publication on Sagyeong in the modern times in Korea. He holds an M.A. in Art History from Dongguk University, and in 1997, he won the Grand Prize in the first-ever Buddhist Scripture Transcribing Contest co-organized by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and Eastern Calligraphers’ Association. He has presented numerous solo exhibitions, including 15 shows organized by the Korean state. He has also taught traditional Sagyeong at universities, Buddhist television channels, and Dong A Cultural Center. He has been numerously invited by prestigious organizations to give special lectures and demonstrations. Over decades, he has contributed numerous essays of his Sagyeong research to various Buddhist magazines. Furthermore, he has advised and participated in numerous national heritage research and restoration projects. As the highest authority in Sagyeong, he serves as the President of the Korean Transcribed Sutra Research Association. Currently he is developing a new style of Sagyeong, incorporating strengths of The Book of Kells in Celtic Christianity and The Shahnama Of Shah Isma’Il (The Book of Kings) in Islam in an attempt to share Sagyeong with a wider audience.
For more information about the exhibition, please contact the gallery at or 212-502-1894.