|▲ Ceramist Kiok Han aka Cheongdam|
For many ceramists, the whole process of creating a work is mind training. The clay goes through the biscuit firing and the second firing to be born as one sturdy and beautiful work of art like we train ourselves through many trials and errors. The tradition of ceramic making of Han’s family goes back to 5 generations. For Han, making a beautiful ceramic work is a process of self-training, a means of communication and a desire to fly higher to the limitless world.
The family tradition started from Youngsuk Han who made grayish-blue-powdered celadon in late Joseon dynasty to Chisu Han, Sangjun Han and his father Changmun Han. Youngsuk Han was a member of the royal ceramic workshop and went down Gwangju to settle down when ceramic makers in late Joseon dynasty started to straggle away.
Han grew up watching ceramic making and naturally became a ceramist like a son of a farmer became a farmer. Grayish-blue-powdered celadon is a little bit different from Goryeo celadon and Joseon white porcelain. While the former has a crude and subdued charm, the latters have a sleek and elegant charm, the reason they were popular among noble families.
“I think grayish-blue-powdered celadon contains sentiment of ordinary people. It has the feel of both rough and smooth and looks like a white porcelain at a point and a Goryeo celadon at another point. The style has developed through various transformations and I also have tried something different every time I make a new ceramic work for this reason” says Han.
As part of this effort, Han traveled the nation with his fellow Korean painting artists to study the unique landscape. His focus was to shift this landscape onto his ceramic works and thus born was the Korea’s first Park Ji Moon Silgyeong Landscape Ceramic that has his unique characteristics of roughness and simplicity.
It is a well-known story that one of his ceramic works marked with a writing of Former President Daejung Kim was given to Pope John Paul II as a gift. When in visiting the US, a number of his works also were given to Former President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell as gifts.
Despite his fame, his workshop seems to have not even a signboard and looks like a run-down factory. When asked about this, he said that he is more interested in making good works people would recognize than in proving himself that he is who he is. This might explain his personality and his holding an exhibition May this year after 6 years of preparation.
“I tried this and that for a variety of the exhibition and I personally feel they were the best works I’ve ever made. My wife Kim had been a great help for the exhibition which was a great success. In fact, she has always been my greatest supporter and advisor so I must thank her. Talking of my patrons, I must also mention Woonbae Kim, CEO of Rodem Park, who sells my works, as well as Yongin Family Natural Burials.”
When asked about future plan, he said that he would to create a ceramic activity building one day so that people from all age groups from children to elderly come to have a fun of ceramic making.
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