A Bamboo Grove and Azure-Winged Magpies __ Lee Ho-sin

A Bamboo Grove and

Azure-Winged Magpies

Lee Ho-sin | Korean Painter


Bamboo stalks with azure-winged magpies

(71x62cm, ink and wash on Korean hanji paper)


A bamboo grove and the moon

(90x60cm, ink and wash on Korean hanji paper)



Seeing bamboo branches tremble upon the opening of a door,

I wondered if an old friend had come for a visit.

When silence envelopes my humble dwelling, I think of a poem by Li Bai and enter the bamboo grove behind my backyard. As I sit on the chair placed in the grove, numerous birds sing at once. I hear birds rising high while brushing against the bamboo leaves. A flock of birds ascends high against the brilliant winter sky while the snow-scented wind smashes into the rocks. In the past, bamboo was praised, either for its transcendental quality, like a recluse who has abandoned the world, or for the reassurance their strength brings, even in the harsh winter cold. Back

A bamboo grove and the moon

(90x60cm, ink and wash on Korean hanji paper) 45 then I did not know, but now I realize that the real owners of a bamboo grove are the myriad lives who make it their home with their life force. Then, a few days ago, a terrible accident happened in the bamboo grove.

I had just returned from an outing and found a bloody azure-winged magpie dead on the ground; it had flown into the glass window of my art studio. With much anxiety I examined the body and was soon fascinated by its beauty and mysterious color. I carefully observed its blue wings, tail and black head and only then realized that the flocks of birds that often fly over the bamboo grove are actually azure-winged magpies.

As a kind of ritual to mourn the bird’s death and remember its spirit, I decided to draw it. I suspended the bird from a wooden stick using string and moved its wings into different positions. I drew these from various angles, and when I was done, I buried the bird in the bamboo grove. From this I realized that the true owners of the bamboo grove were not we humans but birds and other organisms. That’s how I captured on paper the dynamic life force of birds fluttering their wings in the refreshing wind of the bamboo grove.

I moved into this country house out of my love of bamboo. I walk about in the bamboo grove under the moonlight shining on the snow and think of the birds sleeping soundly in the grove. In this time and space of interconnection, I learned a life was awakened within me by the passing of another. I quietly recite a poem by Shin Seok-jeong titled Standing in a Bamboo Grove.


I go to a bamboo grove, to a bamboo grove,

To a grove where bamboo stalks stand sparsely.

The crying of insects flows on the damp, thick night fog.

Blue moonlight flows over the sound of insects.

Great is a bamboo grove, and the sparseness of bamboo.

Great is a bamboo grove with its adamant sorrow.

In the moonlight showering like wafting pollen,

I stand silently and wish to live like the bamboo.



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