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South Korean Ceramics

Dual Natures in Ceramics: Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea / SFO Museum, San Francisco

Dual Natures in Ceramics: Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea / SFO Museum, San Francisco
May 17, 2014 - February 22, 2015

“In modern art, as everyone knows, the beauty of deformity is very often emphasized, insisted upon. But how different is Korean deformity. The former is produced deliberately, the latter naturally. Korean work is merely the natural result of the artisan’s state of mind, which is free from dualistic man-made rules.”
—Bernard Leach (1887–1979)

Renowned British studio potter Bernard Leach once acknowledged that Korean potters are admired for their naturalism and spontaneity in creating ceramics. Scholars have attempted to define the beauty of Korean ceramics as “artless art” or “unplanned plan.” Indeed, Korean ceramics have been produced by the second nature of matured, skilled hands, sometimes transcending any rules, knowledge, and intentions.

During the twentieth century, Korean artists and theorists grappled with the interplay of modernization and tradition. Some artists looked to the genuine, fresh, and fundamental qualities of Korean potters from the past as inspiration to create more appealing modern concepts. Through Korean ceramics, they have explored a dialogue between the traditional and the contemporary as well as East and West.

The eight artists in this exhibition revive and reinterpret aspects of traditional Korean ceramics in various ways. Yoon Kwang-cho and Lee Kang Hyo discover artistic freedom in Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) buncheong (white-slipped stoneware) ceramics and apply white slip in playful and innovative ways. Buncheong is a distinctive type of Korean ceramic that flourished during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Both artists’ ceramics have the whimsical, rustic, and audacious characteristics of buncheong in addition to contemporary elements. Joseon dynasty whiteware was the main foundation for Kim Yik-yung and Park Young Sook. Park has experimented on the uniquely Korean globular jar, the so-called ‘moon jar,’ while simultaneously exploring other Korean porcelains including a blue-white ware shown in this exhibition. Embracing whitewares’ core traditions, Kim Yik-yung complements innovative surface treatments and explores new types of glaze.

Techniques used in traditional Korean ceramics are another matter for the artists in this exhibition. Roe Kyung Jo is known for his marbled-ware technique (yeollimun). The technique was traditionally used for celadon wares, but Roe applies it to other wares. Onggi, a form of earthenware that predates porcelain production, served various purposes in Korean households. Lee Inchin started his works based on onggi wares but expands the technique using new kinds of glazes and experimenting with their applications.

Koo Bohnchang and Yeesookyung go further in interpreting traditional Korean ceramics. Through photographs and video art (newly created for this exhibition), Koo reveals the organic qualities of Korean ceramics that have been overlooked or disregarded by our bare eyes. Yee utilizes and renders the superfluous aspect in ceramic production. Using abandoned ceramic shards, she translates the original concepts of ceramics into more innovative sculptural works that sometimes puzzle the viewers about the concept of ceramics as art in the twenty-first century.

Although their techniques, methodologies, and approaches are different from each other, these eight artists playfully add complex layers onto the history of Korean ceramics through their own interpretations and expressions. Dual Natures brings fresh perspectives to traditional Korean ceramics and suggests new paths of expression for a new century.

This exhibition is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum and SFO Museum and is curated by Hyonjeong Kim Han, Associate Curator of Korean Art, with assistance from Silvia Hari Chang, and Chihyun Lee at the Asian Art Museum.

Dual Natures in Ceramics is located in Terminal 3, Boarding Area F. The exhibition is located post-security and is only accessible to passengers ticketed for travel through Terminal 3. There is no charge to view the exhibition.

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  • Chang Hyun Bang

    Chang Hyun Bang South Korean contemporary ceramics

    Chang Hyun Bang's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

    Read the interview with Chang Hyun Bang, New artist - June-July 2011

    Born in South Korea, ceramic artist Bang Chang-Hyun studied ceramics and English language and literature at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and continued his studies (a master’s in ceramics) at the State University of New York, New Paltz. Bang was a literature student devoted to practicing novels in his mid-20s, dreaming of becoming a novelist. His career later helped him form his own distinctive visual grammar in his creative activities as a potter. Based on literary imagination, metaphor and symbol, Bang leads viewers to empathy with his personified swine characters.

    Bang employs expressionist content and minimalist visual elements in his work. His work represents the gaze at his soul through recollections of the past in unique narratives. Employing a dramatic narrative structure in which a swine appears as protagonist, Bang acutely captures our diverse daily emotions - depression, anxiety, desire, obsession, loss, hallucination, horror - from the viewpoint of an animal. His small, cute swine characters echo viewers who think of them logically and rationally as weak, poor animals. Viewers obsessed with the pigs come to contrast their own life with that of the pigs cast in a dark shadow.

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  • Young Mi Kim

    Young Mi Kim's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

    Young Mi Kim was born and raised in South Korea. she and her family immigrated to New York City in 1974. She studied painting, graduating from Cooper Union. Chance adventure led her to discover clay  fifteen years ago and she is still inspired to explore its depths and possibilities.

    Kim began her career as a painter and is a graduate of Cooper Union. She has been working in clay for over fifteen years, having discovered the medium best expresses her artistic vision. Her range of work includes tall open vessels, deep bowls and altered sculptural forms. Kim uses the two dimensional line to give her shapes visual form and strength, while her organic, hand-coiling technique and gently worked surfaces give her forms life. The space contained in her vessels balances deftly with their vegetative and marine inspired radiating, decorative patterns.

     

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  • Young Mi Kim: Ceramic vessels

  • Interview with Chang Hyun Bang - New Artist, June-July 2011

    Interview with South Korean ceramic artist Chang Hyun Bang - New artist, June-July 2011

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    Ceramics Now Magazine
    : In what techniques do you usually work and what materials do you use?

    Chang Hyun Bang: I usually use two different techniques for my artworks. One is slab-building for the architecture, the other is plaster-casting for the swine. I use stoneware for the architecture, firing at cone 04 while porcelain clay for the swine, firing at cone 6.

    What is your present project, what’s its history and how do you make the pieces?

    I have been interested in expressing my personal emotion derived from my own trauma through swine’s body language. Most of all, depression, anxiety, desire, obsession from my daily lives, and subtle emotions indescribable through language have been important sources for my inspiration. My recent works ‘Secret Garden’ represent my personal story hidden in the flowers. The universal meanings of flowers were subverted with my personal narrative in my artworks. But viewers are given a clue through the text to decode my secret story with the flowers.


    Demosirorooo, 2009, 50 x 32 x 39, 2009, clay, glaze, decal - View his works

    Do you remember your early works, how did it all started?

    When I look back on my early works, I seem to be interested in expressing my ‘contradictory desire’ and ‘phenomenological things’ such as the absence and presence of a thing. I usually loved using big words that I couldn’t fully understand. But that kind of questions are very helpful to my recent works.

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  • Chang Hyun Bang: Daridarooo (detail)

  • Chang Hyun Bang: Daridarooo

  • Chang Hyun Bang: Halikrrr (detail)

  • Chang Hyun Bang: Halikrrr

  • Chang Hyun Bang: A Noonday Demon

  • Young Mi Kim: Ceramic Bowl

  • Young Mi Kim: Ceramic Vessel #9

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