For millennia, Korean craftspeople have been transforming their
country’s rich earth into some of the finest ceramics in the world. In time and
through practice, they have perfected techniques that have been passed down
through the generations, resulting in works in which form and function are
exquisitely merged. Keenly attuned to the ancient roots and illustrious history
of Korean ceramic production, the contemporary ceramists championed by Seoul’s Gallery LVS
have staked their diverse approaches to this
earthy medium on tradition—to which they are bound, but by which they are never
These artists fall into two groups: those who nod to their
ceramist forebears, while pursuing their own vision, and those who carry
forward ancient techniques, with modern innovations.
falls into the former camp, with his clever,
geometric “+, -” series. Walls and cuts characterize his nested vessels, each
one of which is composed of up to ten individual layers of porcelain, as evidenced
by the delicate, alternating blue and white lines ringing their edges. Plus and
minus signs cut into the lips of his cups and bowls, interrupting their clean
silhouettes with a dual reference to mathematics and the balanced angularity of
, the Korean alphabet.
pushes the material properties of porcelain to
elegant extremes in her softly hued, subtly textured pieces. By combining
opaque and translucent, and white and colored clay, and sanding down the
surfaces of her work, she makes containers that seem to be formed of marbled
paper, which glow as light passes through their sides.
Serving as both counterpoint and complement to the work of artists
like Minsoo Lee and Inhwa Lee is that of the artists who have skillfully
modernized traditional practices, among them Se Yong Kim and Hang Taek Lim.
They turn out their wares from their base in Icheon, a famed center of ceramic
production nestled in South Korea’s northwestern region. With his focus on
Goryeo celadon, Se Yong Kim is on a 5,000-year continuum. Using his own
so-called “double openwork” technique, he makes vessels whose sides are
elaborately carved with intersecting and overlapping bamboo leaves, berries,
and other natural forms. Hang Taek Lim’s rounded vases are painted with imagery
of nature and highlighted with crimson, a highly prized and auspicious pigment,
whose formula he has researched and, ultimately enhanced, in the spirit of
twining tradition and innovation shared by all of the artists at Gallery LVS.