Find calm at white porcelain displays

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Find calm at white porcelain displays

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“Red Tiger” by Kim So Sun, an artist who draws folk paintings on porcelain. Provided by the organizer

As the weather gets hotter, people are searching for ways to stay cool.

It may seem incongruous, but gazing at white porcelain pieces could help. While it is perhaps not as quick and effective as using an air-conditioner, the experience could at least help you to find calm and peace of mind.

Several exhibitions on white porcelain from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) are either under way or will start soon.

Ewha Womans University Museum in Seodaemun District, central Seoul, says an exhibition it is planning is set to be the largest ever in which visitors can enjoy a wide spectrum of the historical art genre at a glance.

At the museum’s “White Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty” about 600 Joseon white porcelain pieces are being shown. The display will be the biggest in the country so far to deal exclusively with porcelain from the era, according to Kim Ju-yeon, the museum’s publicist.

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Porcelain pieces by Park Young Sook, displayed at Choi Sunu House, an 80-year-old hanok (traditional Korean house). Provided by the organizer

“Ceramics make up the largest share in our museum’s collection,” Kim says, “and the collection on Joseon-era white porcelain is so diverse that one can see how it evolved over the years between the 15th and 19th centuries.”

Jang Nam-won, the museum’s director, also emphasized variety is the show’s focus.

“[The exhibition] aims to display the variety and dynamic nature of Joseon white porcelain, the dynasty’s most demanded and widely manufactured ceramic,” she said.

State-designated treasures will also be shown at the exhibition, which is slated to kick off on Wednesday. They include “White Porcelain Jar with Grape Design in Underglaze Iron” (National Treasure No. 107) and “White Porcelain Jar with Pine, Bamboo and Human Figure Design in Underglaze Cobalt Blue” (Treasure No. 644).

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A 15th-century white porcelain piece intended to keep the umbilical cord of a royal family member.

An interesting section of this exhibition is the one that deals with white porcelain that marks births and deaths, such as those used to keep the umbilical cords of royal family members or those used as burial items.

A smaller exhibition will be held at Choi Sunu House in Seongbuk District, northern Seoul. At “A World of Glowing White, The Porcelain Art of Park Young Sook” which begins tomorrow, around 30 white porcelain pieces by Park Young Sook are being shown, plus artwork she created with her teacher, Lee U-fan.

“[The exhibition is] her homage to Choi Sunu, a spiritual mentor who guided her in her search for special beauty in the Joseon white porcelain Choi so loved and passionately wrote about,” curator Song Ji-young said.

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An 18th-century piece featuring a grape design, registered as National Treasure No. 107. Provided by Ewha Womans University Museum

The 80-year-old hanok (traditional house) of the late art historian Choi Sunu is currently managed by the National Trust Cultural Heritage Fund, Korea, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Korea’s cultural heritage.

Park’s contemporary porcelain pieces, juxtaposed with the decades-old house and mostly-wooden furniture, will likely be the charm of the event. The venue is open to the public for concerts, lectures and exhibitions.

Minhwa, or folk paintings, and white porcelain combine to perfectly offset each other in a third exhibition. Although most shows on this genre of ceramics lack color, the “Kim So Sun” display is full of various hues, with the addition of humor or fun.

In the show, currently underway at Gana Art Gallery’s Ceramic Studio in Pyeongchang-dong, central Seoul, about 20 of Kim So Sun’s vibrant folk paintings on white porcelain are being exhibited.

“Kim So Sun is an artist who has drawn minhwa on white porcelain for more than 20 years,” the gallery said through statement. “There are dreams and stories in minhwa … and Kim’s porcelain minhwa artworks are cold, yet passionate, vigorous, yet lovely.”

Kim told the JoongAng Ilbo that she began drawing on white porcelain instead of paper because she wanted more people in the world to learn about minhwa.

“You can say it’s the convergence of two of Korea’s cultural heritage items, white porcelain and minhwa,” she said.

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

“White Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty” at Ewha Womans University Museum runs between May 27 and Jan. 30, 2016. “A World of Glowing White, The Porcelain Art of Park Young Sook” at Choi Sunu House begins tomorrow and ends on July 25. The “Kim So Sun” exhibition at Gana Art Gallery runs until June 21. Admission to all three exhibitions is free.


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