Exhibition visit: Kang Ik-joong’s Moon Jars at Robilant + Voena

by Philip Gowman on 20 September, 2016

in Event reports and reviews, Exhibition reviews and comment, Kang Ik-joong (강익중)

Installation view of Kang Ik-joong's exhibition at Robilant + Voena

Installation view of Kang Ik-joong’s exhibition at Robilant + Voena

With Kang Ik-joong’s specially commissioned work floating prominently on the river outside Tate Modern, Robilant and Voena have chosen an opportune time to exhibit a collection of his moon jar paintings. Also on show is Things I Know (2010) an installation of 500 small moon jars arranged in a circle. He may have been pulling my leg, but the artist told me at the exhibition’s opening that actually there were only 499 – one of them got damaged in transit.

The moon jar, as well as being the most celebrated achievement of Joseon dynasty ceramics – a milky-white orb never perfectly spherical – also chimes nicely with Kang’s reunification project on the Thames: Moon Jars are made in two halves, joined at the equator: a suitable symbol of a reunified Korea.

Installation view of Kang Ik-joong's exhibition at Robilant + Voena

Installation view of Kang Ik-joong’s exhibition at Robilant + Voena: Things I Know (2010) and 16 Jars (2007)

This installation is supplemented by tiny loudspeakers in the vases connected by a tangle of wires which looks like tendrils of a creeper. From the vases emerge the sounds of birdsong, perhaps recalling the status of the DMZ as a wildlife sanctuary.

Laid out on the floor of the gallery it makes a nice foreground to the paintings on the wall – some an authentic milky white, others colourfully decorated. Each will have their own favourite. My own is the one placed against a background consisting of a brightly-coloured mosaic of smaller moon jars: they almost seem to flash with a rhythm that recalls a retro video game. But the small colourful squares also recall another strand in Kang’s practice: the mosaic of 3-inch square pictures collected from countless children around the worked or, in the case of his Thames project, the displaced people who fled south during the Korean War.

Moon Jar Dialogue, 2013-2015

Moon Jar Dialogue, 2013-2015. Mixed Media on Wood, 114 x 114 cm / 44.9 x 44.9 in. Courtesy the artist and Robilant + Voena

Kang Ik-joong’s Moon Jar is at Robilant + Voena until 23 September 2016

Links:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: