This unique hanging scroll phoenix painting exhibits a perfect reproduction of Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) folk painting called Minhwa. This particular work depicts an imaginary scene of a pair of phoenixes (bonghwang) with fully-opened wings and tail face each other. The legendary bird phoenix, along with the dragon, is the symbol of an emperor and is believed to herald a time of peace and prosperity.
Minhwa is an art form used to decorate the households and environs of the masses. In contrast to monochromatic paintings done by Confucius scholars and titled court painters, which revered refinement and formalism, folk paintings ignored rules of perspective and composition and the works have a lovely abstract quality, combined with freshness and a sense of whimsy. The folk paintings had the more functional purpose of celebrating good fortune, health and longevity. The folk painters drew their subject matter from shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, incorporating landscape and nature imagery as well as portraits of religious figures.
The most remarkable characteristics of Korean folk paintings are their dynamic composition, the use of bold colors and simplified patterns, and the energetic and whimsical visualization of their forms, without much concern for reality. Because of these unique features Minhwa is both studied and cherished around the world.