The Four Gracious Plants are one of most popular themes in traditional Korean painting. They are not simply decorative wall paintings but also symbolize a way of life. People hang these paintings in their studies or living rooms to see them all the time and cultivate their minds.
The project Four Gracious Plants will be created by altering abstract images from traditional paintings in order to suggest the passing of time and the seasons. Moreover, if it is installed in a living room or library, the painting will be physically connected to a table so that the user can interact with it.
The Four Gracious Plants, alternately called the Four Gentlemanly Plants, or the Four Seasons symbols, consist of plum blossoms, orchids or wild orchids, chrysanthemums, and bamboo. They were originally Confucian symbols for the four qualities of a learned man, but are now more commonly associated with the four seasons. They are plum blossoms which represented courage, the orchid stood for refinement, the chrysanthemum was a sign of a productive, and fruitful life, and bamboo represented integrity. In modern times, the four have come to be associated with the seasons as well; plums blossoms bravely bloom in the cold of an early spring, orchids disseminate a dim fragrance far in the heat of summer, chrysanthemums overcome the first cold of a late fall and bloom, and bamboo bares its green leaves even in the winter.