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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Exhibition news: Simple, Calm, Subtle — KCDF at Tent London 2015

For the second year running, the Korea Craft and Design Foundation is bringing an impressive collection of Korean crafts to Tent London. At LKL we’re particularly pleased that the work of one of our favourite ceramic artists, Roe Kyung-jo, will be included.

Constancy and Change in Korean Traditional Craft 2015

Su-su, Deom-deom, Eun-eun (means Simple, Calm, Subtle)
Tent London Hall, T4-A, Old Truman Brewery, 24—27 September 2015

Under the theme of ‘Su-su Deom-deom Eun-eun’ (Simple, Calm, Subtle) directed by Park Ryu Sook, this exhibition will feature one hundred ninety works, in six categories, by twenty-three artists, merging the graceful, classical beauty of traditional Korean crafts with modern aesthetic sensibilities. These artists are perpetuating and extending Korean craft traditions in metal, ceramics, paper, textile, bamboo, and lacquer.

Lee Young Soon, Jiseung

Lee Young Soon, Woven paper jar, installation view with 20 pieces

Hanji (traditional Korean mulberry paper) was originally used for writing and painting, but in the late Joseon period one more usage was added. Jiseung artworks are made using paper-string, which is made by rubbing and twisting Hanji, and they display the simplicity of Korean aesthetics. Lee Young-soon is gaining attention for the fact that she has reinterpreted and reproduced the tradition of Jiseung in a modern sense, expanding its possibilities. For the last thirty years, she has striven to show the genuine nature of traditional Jiseung, and to modernize it at the same time. Like a monk who pursues truth, she carefully concentrates on her repetitive labor for many hours.

Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang, Brass Tableware

Kim Soo Young+Cho Ki Sang - Brass Tableware

Brassware, made from an alloy of copper and tin, was widely used for presents to the king, Buddhist items such as statues and bells, and items for everyday use. Serving dishes made of brass were preferred because brass does not contaminate food with color or odor. It was thought that food etiquette of the historical Korean gentry was reflected in the tableware, and taking care of the brass tableware was one of the important tasks of Korean women. He was selected as the Artisan of the Year in 2013 by Yeol, a non-profit organization that was founded in 2002 under the supervision of the Cultural Heritage Administration in order to preserve, support and augment Korea’s cultural heritage, and to encourage better understanding of traditional culture. Upon receiving the award, he produced brass tableware in collaboration with designer Cho Ki Sang.

Lee Seung Hee, Ceramic Painting

Lee Seung Hee, Ceramic Painting

While he was working on a project to send to Japan, a sudden thought occurred to him. Should ceramics be limited to only three-dimensions? How about two-dimensional ceramics? In 2008, he left for Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, the oldest city of ceramics in China, in order to find answers. There he found earth, fire, water, light, air and wind. He discovered passion and creative ideas through this first venture. With delicate sensibility and determined patience, he succeeded in converting a three-dimensional shape into a two-and-a-half-dimensional surface using traditional ceramic techniques. Then he paints the surface with pigments, and scrapes thin layers of grains to create a sense of three dimensions while organizing the lines and surface. He fires the background without glazing to create the texture of earth. Ordinary ceramics are made in ancient styles using glaze.

Lee Hyun Bae, Onggi Pottery

Lee Hyun Bae - Onggi Pottery (Earthenware)

It is not known precisely how long Onggi ware has been used. As items for everyday use, it was used for various daily purposes such as tableware and storage containers, Onggi ware was vitally necessary, yet it was familiar and abundant. It has sometimes been disparaged, but it is still close to our lives, since Koreans’ food culture is still based on fermentation and preservation, even now, in our modernized and urbanized lives. He found his own path searching for the essence of traditional Onggi. His Onggi ware soon became famous, because it has functional features and aesthetics suitable for modern life, while still being made in a traditional way. This instant success was a result of the considerable amount of time he spent contemplating before he embarked on his Onggi work.

Roe Kyung Jo, Inlaid Yeollimun Box

Roe Kyung Jo - Yeollimun - Marbled Ceramic

Hailed as “master of marbled ware”, Roe Kyung Jo has developed a unique kind of work. The term marbled pattern refers to natural patterns seen in brown marble. Marbled ware is made of a mixture of white clay, celadon clay, and kaolin. These three colors of clay blend together and create the marbled effect. He found pigments of red, white and brown in those old ceramic shards, and studied firing methods to control the temperature and humidity of the clay. From his intensive research, he invented ceramics with modern aesthetics in the traditional style. The natural beauty of marbled ware has gained attention inside and outside Korea.

Kim Seol, Lacquerware

Kim Seol - Lacquerware

Lacquering uses the refined sap of the lacquer tree. It protects the lacquered object from moisture, rot, and insect infestation, and is highly adhesive. In addition, it adds luster and ornamentation to the object. The lacquering process is complicated and lengthy, so it requires great patience. Despite this difficulty, Kim Seol has inherited the tradition, and developed it and given new forms to it. Her dry lacquer work contains artificial beauty to the utmost degree. She juxtaposes slick artificiality with the rustic feeling of nature by arranging it against a wooden branch, and highlights the contrast. The harmony between nature, human, and the universe are melded in her bowls.


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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