It’s taken a while, but here is some more information on the artists and artisans from Gyeongsangbuk-do who were exhibiting in Mayfair earlier this year. It’s a shame that their sojourn was so brief. The quality and interest of their work was equal to that displayed in the Traditional Yet Contemporary exhibition last year, and yet while last year’s show stuck around for a couple of weeks on display and then re-appeared at the Bonhams auction later in the year, this year’s exhibition was here for a couple of days and was gone in a flash. And it was particularly a shame that this year’s exhibits did not stay around for longer given that the exhibition space was brighter, and the work had greater variety — in particular featuring some textile work as well as ceramics.
From the talk accompanying last year’s exhibition, you might have been forgiven for thinking that Park Young-sook had a unique ability to reproduce the Chosun-dynasty moon jars. Well, a tough challenge it undoubtedly is, but Park does not have a monopoly on that talent. Two of the ceramists in the Millennuim Dream show, Kim Jeong-ok and Lee Hak-cheon, also exhibited moon jars, one of which was displayed prominently in the window.
Kim Jeong-ok (김정옥, above) is designated as national Intangible Cultural Asset # 105. Apart from his moon jar, the work he exhibited was buncheon vases and bottles, together with smaller-scale tea bowls, some of which had a distinctive red copper underglaze.
The red copper underglaze was also a speciality of Lee Hak-cheon (이학천, above), a provincial intangible cultural asset.
Cheon Han-bong (천한봉), the second provincial intangible cultural asset in the exhibition, is still innovating after 60 years of potting, with two patent applications pending for glaze techniques. Cheon’s work on show was smaller individual pieces of stoneware and some desirable tea sets.
Kim Jae-cheol (김재철), who is still under 50 years old, has nevertheless managed to win Gyeongsangbuk-do’s best tourist something award fifty times. His work at the show was certainly different. To say it had novelty value would cheapen it — better to say that it’s the sort of work which would make a superb gift. His grinning brush-holders and unusual shaped vases are both different and very portable.
Finally, the textile work of Choi Ok-ja (최옥자) provided an interesting contrast in the basement of the gallery. One wall was taken up with her huge “Silk Road” (above right), while in an alcove a peaceful blue and white hanging gave a restful aura to the space.
Congratulations to Justina Jang of the KPCAUK for pulling this exhibition together at such short notice. Millennium Dream, Millennium Light, featuring the ceramic and textile artists of Gyeongsangbuk-do, was on at ArtSpace Galleries 15-17 June 2007.