Clay sculptures bring warmth and color to cold, quiet space

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Clay sculptures bring warmth and color to cold, quiet space

Go to the second floor of the COEX center in southern Seoul, past the convention halls holding big industrial exhibitions, and you'll find an unlikely space for fine art, the Chosun Gallery.

Still, the gallery, with its glass walls, looks like a transparent box in the center of a vast space: modern, chilly and somewhat sterile. The exhibitions held there tend to feature stark, unfriendly art made of forbidding materials like metal or glass. But a new exhibition has warmed up the gallery's atmosphere a notch.

The exhibition, "Clay Times 3 from Southern California," consists of clay ceramic art in sculptural forms by three Los Angeles-based artist friends -- Sunny Yook, Tony Marsh and Vince Palacios.

"We three artists have something in common," says Ms. Yook, 45, who came to Seoul for the show. "All of us are fascinated by the warmness of clay and pursuing warm impressions in our work."

Ms. Yook likes the endurance of clay as well as its warmth and familiarity with everything human. "Clay is soft and flexible but can endure temperatures of up to 1,500 degrees centigrade," she says. "At the same temperatures, metals will melt away."

The works by Mr. Palacios in the exhibition seem to have many interesting tales in them, since they look like children's toys or castles in fairytales. But the artist gives no explicit hint, naming them all "untitled."

"Vince loves children so much that he has adopted three kids," Ms Yook says. "He puts childlike fun and mischief into his works."

The colors Mr. Palacios uses, such as dark orange, dark red and brown, are generally calm and warm, in contrast to their funny and lively shapes.

Most of Ms. Yook's works have brighter colors. One of her most striking pieces, a sculpture titled "The Memory Under the Sun," has an abstract form with curved lines and dazzling white color.

"I think the brilliant sunshine symbolizes the grace of God from a Christian viewpoint," Ms. Yook says. "And the bottom of the sculpture is curved so that it can be swayed, just like a rocking chair. I made the bottom that way to emphasize that the world is light and moving, that it's not so heavy and serious."

Most of the works by Mr. Marsh in the exhibition also have spiritual themes. His works are divided into three series: "Abundance and Radiance," "Floating and Dreaming," and "Creation Vessel."

Despite the divisions, Mr. Marsh, in all of his works, adheres to a strict pattern. Each consists of a large ceramic vessel with white objects inside of varying shapes and sizes. The white objects remind us of samnamansang, a Buddhist term that refers to all creatures or all nature.

"Tony is deeply interested in Eastern culture and Buddhism," Ms. Yook says. "He could have been influenced by his father, who is a Buddhist."

The exhibition will run through Friday, after which warmth in the gallery will be just California dreaming.

by Moon So-young

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