Sweet­en­ing the pot Korean ce­ramists at Art Santa Fe

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - Art in Art,

The city of Icheon, lo­cated in Gyeonggi, South Ko­rea’s most pop­u­lous prov­ince, has been a cen­ter of ce­ramic pro­duc­tion for hun­dreds of years. The city it­self of­fers a mi­cro­cos­mic snap­shot of the his­tory of Korean ceram­ics dat­ing to the Bronze Age. The re­gion, re­ferred to as “the heart of ce­ramic art,” is known for the celadon (green­ware) pot­tery pro­duced dur­ing the Go­ryeo dy­nasty (918-1392), white porce­lain called baekja that was pop­u­lar in the Joseon era (1392-1910), and bun­cheong, a type of bluish-green celadon that was also de­vel­oped in the Joseon pe­riod. The Joseon era came to an end in 1910, when Ko­rea fell un­der Ja­panese rule and celadon pot­tery pro­duc­tion all but stopped un­til it was re­vived in the mid-1950s. To­day, the city’s Ceram­ics Vil­lage, a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion for tourists, has about 80 ce­ramic stu­dios (there are more than 300 city­wide) where artisans still work us­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods of the re­gion, mak­ing dec­o­ra­tive and util­i­tar­ian celadon wares. Ev­ery spring, Icheon hosts Ko­rea’s largest an­nual ceram­ics fes­ti­val, which just cel­e­brated its 31st year. Icheon has been one of Santa Fe’s 10 sis­ter cities since 2013, a fit­ting pair­ing, since both lo­ca­tions are also UNESCO Cre­ative Cities, a des­ig­na­tion given to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties through­out the world that are hot­beds of artis­tic pro­duc­tion. Be­fore be­ing named sis­ter cities, Santa Fe and Icheon had al­ready es­tab­lished a rap­port when former mayor David Coss and Icheon’s mayor Byung­don Cho signed an eco­nomic agree­ment in 2012, in hopes of fos­ter­ing on­go­ing cul­tural ex­changes. To­day, that re­la­tion­ship re­mains strong. A del­e­ga­tion of ce­ramic artists from Icheon’s Ceram­ics Vil­lage, in town for the an­nual Art Santa Fe in­ter­na­tional art fair, are do­ing a series of demon­stra­tions as part of Art Labs, cu­rated de­mon­pro­grams stra­tive made in con­junc­tion with lo­cal gal­leries and in­sti­tu­tions. The Korean ce­ramists are hosted by G.K Fine Art Gallery, the lo­cal gallery of

Korean-born artist Gary Kim and his part­ner He­lena Kim. G.K Fine Art has two booths at the fair to show­case Icheon ceram­ics as well as the works of sev­eral con­tem­po­rary Korean artists be­ing rep­re­sented by the gallery. The ce­ramic artists — Bok­sik Ji, Joun­goo Ham, Chang­wan Hong, and Changho Ahn — present their demon­stra­tions at var­i­ous times on Fri­day, July 14, and through­out the week­end. “Most of them have never been to an Amer­i­can art fair, so they’re very ex­cited,” Kim said.

Mod­ern celadon can range in color from bluish-gray to a deep jade green. Con­tem­po­rary forms, which in­clude pots, jars, tea sets, vases, and other ob­jects for the home, of­ten main­tain the mono­chrome glaze seen in his­toric pieces, but the sur­faces can be left plain, or­nately carved, or painted with in­tri­cate na­turein­spired im­agery. The ceram­ics are wood-fired in large, multi-cham­bered kilns where oxy­gen is re­duced to achieve the de­sired hues. The process also re­sults in a net­work of fine cracks over the sur­face, vis­i­ble un­der the glaze, called craz­ing. The ce­ramic demon­stra­tions fo­cus on new tech­niques and in­no­va­tions as well as on his­toric meth­ods of pro­duc­ing Korean pot­tery.

G.K Fine Art’s sec­ond booth fea­tures the con­tem­po­rary arts of Kim and six es­tab­lished Korean art mak­ers: vis­ual artists Jin-woo Park, Eun-young Song, and Yun-hee Cho; folk artist Hae-sook Lee; mixed me­dia artist Yeo-joo Nam; and fig­u­ra­tive painter Young-sun Kim. “Some of them are us­ing mixed me­dia and some of them are us­ing more tra­di­tional acrylics and oil paints like me,” said Kim, a pleinair land­scape artist and fig­ure painter. “I would say I’m a con­tem­po­rary representational artist,” he said. Kim’s body of work in­cludes por­traits, fig­u­ra­tive paint­ings and draw­ings, and a series called in which he de­picts mu­se­um­go­ers at well-known venues such as New York’s Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art. “Since I’ve moved to Santa Fe, I’ve just been fo­cused on land­scapes, es­pe­cially aspen trees — aspen groves, aspen fo­liage — and some lo­cal scenes,” he said.

Kim moved to the U.S. 18 years ago, liv­ing first in New York. After trav­el­ing the coun­try, he set­tled in Santa Fe in 2011. The gallery closed tem­po­rar­ily in 2016 while the Kims trav­eled to South Ko­rea to find a sta­ble of two- and three-di­men­sional artists to rep­re­sent. They are now poised to re­open their gallery on the corner of Alameda Street and Old Santa Fe Trail. “The Korean art mar­ket is very big,” Kim said. “There are a lot of artists lead­ing the art world. There are a lot of young, good artists. They’re the jewel in­side the box. I’d like to make my gallery like a step­ping stone for them to break into the Amer­i­can art mar­ket.” The gallery in­vited about 20 artists to show in Santa Fe. “It’s just the tip of the ice­berg. I’d like to in­tro­duce Korean artists to Amer­i­can col­lec­tors who ap­pre­ci­ate and care about Asian art and artists — not just tra­di­tional art. A lot of the artists we’ve in­vited here are high-end artists that Amer­i­can col­lec­tors have never seen be­fore.”

Joun­goo Ham: fin­ished pot; all im­ages cour­tesy Art Santa Fe

Eun-young Song: Nar­cis­sus Mono­logue (de­tail), 2013, mixed me­dia; top, Bok­sik Ji: ce­ramic vase

Chang­wan Hong work­ing on a pot; top, ce­ramic artist Changho Ahn

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