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.
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.
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.
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.