Introducing one of a kind ‘flat surface ceramics’

안정희 기자l승인2019.05.16l수정2019.05.16 14:11






▲ Ceramist Lee Ho-young aka Hanearl

Ceramics embrace earthenware and porcelain. The former is made of clay and the latter of stone such as feldspar, silica stone and limestone. Ceramics have strong bond with tradition and it is often hard for ceramists to try something new. In this respect, ceramist Lee Ho-young is worth being paid attention for the fame of his unique ‘flat surface ceramics’. <Power Korea> looked into it.

Flat surface ceramics
Lee’s flat surface ceramics is shaped like flat TV. According to him, it takes several times more effort than the traditionally shaped ceramics especially in terms of contraction ratio. But the reward of flat surface ceramics is at the fact that everything changes on the location and strength of the fire. For this reason, Lee calls his flat surface ceramics as ‘pictures of the fire’. Many of his colleagues renowned or not had doubt whether flat surface ceramics is possible and rather dissuaded him at first. As time went by, however, they were surprised by his endless passion in doing so and by watching the completion of his long time pursued passion.

Exhibitions to celebrate PyeongChang 2018 and in memory of Yi Sun-sin
Lee’s works were displayed at Jinbu Station at the exhibition celebrating PyeongChang 2018 and at Yi Sun Sin Patriotic Martyr Park in Namhae County. Visitors home and abroad gave unsparing praises to the excellence of Korean ceramic art and some of them even show their wish to have one or more works displayed during the exhibitions in their collections.  

The work displayed at Yi Sun Sin Patriotic Martyr Park in particular was spectacular as the size was 200 meters in length and 5 meter in height. Lee put together many of 5cm pieces of ceramics to make this huge work of art themed on the Battle of Noryang, the battle in which Yi died. In memory of the great leadership of Yi and the Korean who fought fiercely against Japan, Lee poured his utmost attention to detail to the strength of the fire in order to make the images as he pictured. 

Apart from these two notable exhibitions, Lee delivered excellence of Korean ceramic art with his 6 flat surface ceramic works at the Buddhist Tea Fair held in Xiamen, China, last October. Visitors were surprised by the flat surface ceramics which they had seen for the first time and expressed their feeling “it is unique” and “it is extraordinary”. 

Lee’s next exhibition is held at Bongeun Temple, Gangnam District, Seoul, from May 5-12 this year. 

Family business

Lee is the third generation ceramist of his family and it has been passed down from his maternal grandfather to his father. In fact, his older brother and family members of the mother’s side are all ceramists. His father especially is one who kept the lacquerware kiln passed down from the grandfather intact even during the Korean War period. And the lacquerware kiln is well passed down to Lee as of today.

“We call lacquerware as black ceramics. It once was a material to make celadon and it once was used to contain soy sauce, chili pepper paste and liquor before the advent of glass. If you ask people in their 60s whether they have seen a black ceramics or two, they would almost certainly say yes. Regretfully, not many researches have been carried on this black ceramics. The coming black ceramic exhibition I’m working on is part of my effort to encourage scholars to dig in the field and to promote public awareness on this beauty black ceramics” says Lee.

Lee brings up an interesting suggestion: the Tripitaka Koreana will be better preserved when reproduced with flat surface ceramics. 


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