The many personalities of Buncheong ware: Joseon-era ceramic technique was used by royals and commoners
“We call Gwiyal technique the slip-brushed design and the Dumbung the slip-coated design,” said Suh Jee-min, the curator of the Horim Museum’s latest exhibition titled “Shades of Nature, Buncheong.” It runs until Feb. 2 of next year.
“When you look at these two techniques of creating Buncheong ware, you’ll see the charm behind the beauty of lines for Gwiyal Buncheong and the beauty of surface for Dumbung Buncheong wares,” Suh added. “The dynamic strokes of the Gwiyal technique and the composed weight of the Dumbung technique resonate with abstract and expressive modern paintings. By looking at different Buncheong wares with the layers of different textures from the gray and white clay and the variation of patterns created through exaggeration and elimination, visitors to the exhibition will be able to see the true essence of Buncheong ware.”
“Shades of Nature, Buncheong” displays some 70 pieces of Buncheong ware from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) on the third floor, which are all collections from the Horim Museum. On the second floor, there are about 50 modern works of Buncheong by nine artists.
Usually, when museums display artifacts, they place small placards beside each piece of art to inform visitors about the history behind it. But Horim Museum decided to break from that custom and not include any information except for the piece’s name and period of creation.
“Those who would like to study the history behind each Buncheong ware may be disappointed,” Suh said, “but we decided to take out the information tags on purpose so that visitors can fully be mesmerized by the aesthetic aspect of the Buncheong ware in this exhibition.”
The Horim Museum rarely organizes exhibits of contemporary art works. However, this time, the museum decided to display modern Buncheong wares along with Joseon Dynasty artifacts to “be in line with the abstract beauty of contemporary art,” said Suh.
The section displaying contemporary works is titled “Nature and Freedom,” as the two words seem to inspire the participating artists, explained Suh.
“When I visited their workshops, they were all located near the mountains and the sea or the river,” she said. “The artists also said they decided to work with Buncheong because you can be free from any kind of formalities.”
The contemporary works, therefore, go beyond simply creating bowls and plates. For example, Cha Kyu-sun’s “Landscape” created Buncheong plates to look like a canvas and painted his version of “landscapes” using the white slip.
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [email@example.com]
“Shades of Nature, Buncheong” runs until Feb. 2. Admission is 8,000 won ($7) for adults. The Horim Museum’s Sinsa branch opens from 10:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.