The Icheon Ceramics Festival was held in 3 years last September. Icheon City is the place where earthenware production started from the Bronze Age, and it became the center of Korean ceramic culture through the Japanese colonial period. The city was designated as a creative city by the UNESCO in 2010 and with the festival has been promoting Korean ceramics home and abroad. There are about 420 workshops across the city making celadon, white porcelain, buncheongware, pottery, and sculptures. The ceramic masters of Icheon are creating new beauty of Korean ceramics by exploring new forms and techniques. Among them, master Kim Bong-an and ceramist Kim Hye-ryun couple are attracting attention.
“Art must constantly change and break the boundaries between tradition and everyday life.”
Does Korean pottery reflect the current era and culture well? Unfortunately, the couple says, that is not the case. In order to do that, they say, art should constantly change and does not draw a boundary between art works and everyday life. Since pottery has historically been used throughout our daily lives, it must contain the artistic trends as well as lifestyles of the times.
“We hope that our work is not aimed at fame and fortune. With purity and passion, we hope to become true ceramists who speak of the time.”
There is Misanyo, a couple’s workshop, in Pyogyo-ri, Majang-myeon, Icheon-si. They have been doing pottery for over 30 years. Misanyo is one of the best pottery brands in Korea and is loved by many people in department stores nationwide. They recently took on a new challenge: the challenge to spread the beauty of traditional Korean porcelain to more people and to promote everyday use. Breaking away from the fence of a commercial brand, Misanyo plans to publicize the purity, value, and beauty of it through its own stores and galleries in Incheon and Icheon.
National identity is created in tradition and the birth of a new life of modern beauty comes from the fingertips of masters who continue the tradition
The process of making a pot itself is the charm of traditional Korean ceramics. After going through more than 10 processes, a ceramic is finally born after a long wait. Master Kim makes his imagination a reality through all these processes and gives birth to new life in the soil. One mistake would ruin the whole process. Master Kim learned the skills from his father Kim Young-jun and ceramist Kim shifted from oriental painting to the charm of ceramic.
“We take a break time to time. There is no giving up. We will do it again eventually.”
The greatest characteristics of Korean ceramics are warmth and variety. Master Kim’s works are very clear and transparent. His works have a subtle yet clear clarity in the transparency that allows you to see inside. Looking at the color of the fire in the kiln, he adjusts the air with intuition he has acquired over a long period of time. The work you want comes out only when you continuously check it with your eyes and make fine adjustments perfectly.
‘Ceramic art is a road without straight lines!! Even if you turn around, if only the center is standing right, you can go sideways or slowly’
Kim refers to pottery as “a road without straight lines. Even if you turn around, if only the center is standing right, you can go sideways or slowly.” Kim says “”Wouldn’t God feel that way when he sees us? He wants to make us in the best form, but how painful it must be when we keep splitting and going wrong. Ceramics are like a child to us. It is love that cannot be given up.”
|▲ Misanyo / Ceramists Kim Bong-an and Kim Hye-ryun|
“We wish to spread beauty and excellence of traditional ceramics to the people and young ceramists.”
To this end, the couple opened a new gallery in Cheongna International City, Incheon. ‘Misanyo’ in Icheon, on the other hans, is to run as a complex cultural space with an activity hall and a cafe. Kim, who is planning to write a book for young ceramists, said, “I want to make a book containing my unfulfilled dream, the dream of letting everyone know the beauty of traditional pottery, and deliver it to young ceramists.”
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