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The peony, which symbolized royal authority and various other positive concepts such as honor, beautiful women and wealth, was painted up to the late Joseon era in various forms such as bird-and-flower paintings, folk paintings, bookshelf paintings and still life paintings, within the tradition of unifying the genres of poetry, calligraphy and painting. With the opening of the Chosun Arts Exhibition, however, peony paintings were re-categorized into Four Gracious Plants (四君子) works, Oriental paintings and Western paintings. This was due to Japan’s desire to replace traditional calligraphy paintings with a new system of categories ― Oriental paintings, Western paintings, and calligraphy and Four Gracious Plants paintings ― through the rules of the Chosun Arts Exhibition system, under the guise of modernizing the art of the Joseon era. The peonies that appear in all the categories of the Chosun Arts Exhibition provide a good illustration of various aspects of modern painting as it changed according to the rules of the system. In the calligraphy and Four Gracious Plants Section of the Chosun Art Exhibition, paintings of peonies were entered alongside those of the four plants themselves: plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo. The peony paintings in the Four Gracious Plants Section, produced using the mogu (沒骨; “boneless”) ink technique with title poems to the side of the work, constituted a continuation of the Four Gracious Plants genre that developed as a trend in “Southern-style” literati paintings of the 19th century. The traditional symbolism of the peony was conveyed through title poems on paintings. Peony paintings of the Four Gracious Plants genre were also entered into the Oriental Painting Section of the exhibition by artists that entered them into the Four Gracious Plants Section, in the years that the latter section was run (1924~1931). At the time, the Four Gracious Plants were in danger of being thrown out of the exhibition, being transferred from the Oriental Painting Section (1922~1923) to the Four Gracious Plants section (1924~1931) and then back to the Oriental Painting Section again (1932~1944). Traditional calligrapher-painters therefore chose peony paintings, which followed existing styles and motifs but were appropriate for entry into the Oriental Painting Section, in order to bolster their status as painters, rather than calligrapherpainters losing their ground in the process of separation of calligraphy and painting. In the Oriental Painting Section, meanwhile, realistic peony paintings appeared, with detailed brush strokes, emphasizing decorativeness, on frame-shaped canvases from which title poems describing the symbolism of the peony had vanished. This was a reflection of Japan’s political intentions, which encouraged artists to follow Japanese painting styles by way of the jury system at the Chosun Art Exhibition. Peonies in the Western Painting Section were expressed in a realistic manner, as matter constituting part of a picture and as visual objects, having been rid of their symbolism. This can be regarded as due to the fact that the Western Painting Section of the Chosun Art Exhibition was influenced by academism guided principally by the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Changes in peony paintings according to section thus show the confusion experienced and new concepts established by Korea’s traditional artists as they were absorbed into the modern system that was the Chosun Art Exhibition. This means, moreover, that such changes nor the result of the division and re-establishment of modern artistic genres, or to natural changes in era, but the result of imperial Japan’s coercive efforts to fit artists into a pre-divided framework. Following liberation, however, artists engaged in self-reflection with the aim of clearing away the remnants of colonial rule. In the course of this, attempts were made to find motifs in traditional Korean art and to express them using traditional styles of brush use and coloring. As a result, the traditional symbolism of the peony, which had seemed lost from peonies in the Oriental and Western painting sections of the Chosun Art Exhibition, underwent a revival, while peony paintings of the Four Gracious Plants genre, which had vanished during the same exhibition, were entered once again into the Calligraphy Section of the Korean Art Exhibition. The peony naturally close to be recognized as a symbol of Korea, through its use as a motif to express Korean emotinal thought.