Kwon Dae Sup Solo Exhibition

[GALLERIES] Johyun Gallery

2021. 1. 14 – 3. 28
Kwon Dae Sup

The artist Dae-sup Kwon was born in Seoul in 1952 and graduated from Hongik University’s Department of Art in 1978. After seeing white porcelain in Insadong, he studied pottery at Nabeshima in Kyushu for five years starting in 1979. In 1995, he held the first domestic exhibition at the Deokwon Art Museum. After that, he held the solo exhibitions at the Seomi & Tuus Gallery (2009-2014), the Axel Vervoordt Gallery (2015, 2018 Belgium), and the Park Ryu Sook Gallery (2019, 2020). In 2009, he participated in Design Miami and Triennale di Milano (2013). He held group exhibitions at the Seoul Museum of Art, Mountain Art Foundation (2014), and the Paris Ornamental Museum (2015), and various exhibitions at the Bavarian National Museum (Monaco 2016), Art Geneva (Swiss 2016), and Ginza Six Gallery (Japan 2017). He was named the best artist of the Korea Art Critics Association in 1998. Also, some of his works own by the the Leeum Samsung Museum, the Korean Folk Museum, the Guimet Museum (France), the Russia National Museum, St. Petersburg, (Russia), and the Chicago Institute of Art (USA).

Johyun Gallery( Dalmaji ) is pleased to announce ceramic artist Dae-sup Kwon’s solo exhibition as the first exhibition entering 2021. Kwon will present eleven new works of white porcelain crafted as modern interpreta- tions of the celebrated Joseon tradition. Dae-sup Kwon was a college student who enjoyed antique hounding, who later in his late 20s came across a Joseon white porcelain (baekja) and became completely enamored by it. He was a student of western art in college, but his artistic practice of over four decades thereafter spanned multiple genres and media, all swiveling on traditional Korean art.

Joseon white porcelain lives on
White porcelain (baekja) commonly called moon jars (dalhangari), was produced extensively in the late Joseon Dynasty during the latter half of 17th century and well into the 18th century. Kwon’s white porcelain is a faithful reproduction of that definitive era’s form and technique. The rotund jar stands just above 40cm, its creamy white, rich. The porcelain clay is made of the finest sediments, high-quality kaolin impurities completely removed. The glowing heat of the kiln needs to reach temperatures of 1,400℃ and beyond. From the choice of raw clay to the techniques of achieving kiln temperature, Kwon is adept to all known methods and insights left by the Joseon Era pottery masters. In that tradition, Kwon’s kiln fires about ten times a year. Each time, Kwon fires four Moon Jars, and that’s about 40 per year, but only about 20, or half, pass his rigid standards. His studio is located in Gwangju, a city 30 km southeast from the very center of Seoul. More importantly, Gwangju is home to more than 340 kilns of Joseon’s court-potters. In 1979, he began studying at Ogasawara Toemon in Japan, later returning to settle in Gwangju, building a kiln. Kwon invested a great deal of time and energy into hounding down old kilns from Korea’s last dynasty and studying what he could find. He has essentially inherited not only the material, form, and the tech- niques, but the very spirit of Joseon Dynasty’s royal pottery.

A modern reinterpretation
That is not to say rediscovered techniques are blindly emulated. He keeps the Moon Jars rooted in traditional culture, while seeking modernity in his own way. Moon jars (wonho- 圓壺 ) and tall vases (ipho- 立壺 ) consist Kwon’s works presented this exhibition. The moon jar got its name for its creamy and full, rotund figure, composed of two hemisphere top-and-bottom connected by score-and-slip. An important technique of note is in slipping the two hemispheres that do not mirror each other. If both hemispheres were perfectly round or chiral, connecting them would be simple, but Kwon’s moon jar hemispheres are slightly deformed. The type and degree of deformity is defined at the point of connecting the hemispheres. What results is a slightly deformed-yet-balanced form. The unassumingly naivety of the misaligned hemisphere offer a certain solace, a stability. The texture of the surface is also varied. It demands a full circumspection the way sculptures do. Some parts are glossy with shine and some parts are less clear and cloudy. They are anomalies obtained through partially adjusting the kiln temperature kiln. Kwon is wary of his work being tagged as moon jars (dalhangari). The moon jars of the Joseon era were clearly not the same as his creations, and an attachment to the full moon may only limit interpretation and imagination.

Aesthetics of the past and present
“There is a tree-ness to trees, and there is rock-ness to rocks. Such enjoyable textures and beauties of nature are best unsullied. If an artist can keep that pristine yet somehow introduce his skills upon it, then that is a work of art worth its name.” Great artworks and artifacts embody a certain simple and undiluted style. The chaste beauty of Kwon’s white porcelain echo with the Korean aesthetics of understated beauty as well as evocations of the artist’s sensibilities. The artist describes modernity as “just a new facet that we had not seen.” The Sino-Korean character signifying new ( 新 ) consists of two sub-characters; tree ( 木 ) and axe ( 斤 ). The idea is that modernity is the sapwood and heartwood of the great tree trunk that is tradition. That is to say, modernity is manifested only when we under- stand the traditions of the past and discover newness in them. The artist says that the work of the artist is “a process that cannot be completed without the help of nature, independent of my skill level.”

Kwon is known to be a great admirer and collector of antiques, including furniture. He feels that the furniture and other objects from the Joseon era still carry the energy of the forefathers and their ethos as well as their taste for the arts. It has also served him as a strong driving force through four decades. The current pandemic has changed the very shape of our lives, laying heavy fatigue on our body and mind. Despite those circumstances, Kwon’s white porcelain moon jars will see you at eye-level, with comfort and generosity. All who come face the moon jars in person at the exhibition will find a soothing presence to the porcelain; the artist’s path of quiet self-cultivation, unmoved by time.

Johyun Gallery Dalmaji
171 Dalmaji 65 beon-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan, Korea
+82 51 747 8853

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