Good Enough to Eat: Chuseok Installation Art

Food meets art in this creative expression of Korean culture

As Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving Day, draws nearer, one department store in Seoul found a creative way to introduce this holiday as well as Korean culture to visitors. On Thursday, September 12th, Lotte Department Store unveiled a piece of installation art showing Shin Yun-Bok's famous painting "Portrait of a Beauty" made with songpyeon. Songpyeon is the crescent shaped rice cake that Koreans make during Chuseok with their families.

The original "Portrait of a Beauty" was painted on silk and it measures 45 centimeters wide and 114 centimeters high (about 1.5 feet by 3.74 feet). Shin Yun-Bok, one of the foremost artists during the Joseon dynasty, left a rich legacy of genre paintings. This painting of his is also an important element of the Korea Center’s upcoming documentary, “Korean Beauty.”

The larger-than-life installation artwork can be found outside the main entrance of Lotte Department Store near the shopping district of Myungdong. Artists brushed the songpyeon with various colors and meticulously recreated Shin Yun-Bok's painting of a woman who is said to represent the standard of beauty during the Joseon dynasty.

The piece measures 2.1 meters wide and 2.7 meters high (about 6.9 feet by 8.9 feet). It will be on display until Sunday, September 22nd, so drop by to take a look before it ends. Around the main artwork are several displays of Korean paper dolls that depict traditional activities around the harvest festival season. Learn more about Korea's harvest festival traditions and foods from ROK’n Seoul’s article.

A close-up reveals the great details and delicate colors that went into this artwork.

These paper dolls are dressed in traditional Korean costumes, called hanbok.

Starting in 2014, people will be able to see the real "Portrait of a Beauty" in person when it will be in a public exhibition for three years. The Gansong Art and Culture Foundation and the Seoul Design Foundation announced that "Portrait of a Beauty" and other famous works will be displayed at the museum in the Dongdaemun Design Plaza.