First-ever Exhibition of Korean Porcelain in
Diverse Spectrum: 600 Years of Korean Ceramics
Presented by the
Date: August 16 - November 25 (103 days)
The National Museum of Korea (Director Kim Youngna) proudly presents Diverse Spectrum: 600 Years of Korean Ceramics at the Sao Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) from August 16 - November 25, featuring 96 ceramic works, including masterpieces from the museum’s collection of Joseon porcelain, as well as contemporary Korean ceramics that reflect the country’s historic heritage. The exhibition, organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Korean immigrants to Brazil, is the first to introduce Korean cultural assets to South America, which is co-sponsored by the Korea Foundation (President Kim Woosang) and the Sao Paulo Museum of Art.
In December 1962, a group of 103 Koreans set out on a long voyage to a foreign land called Brazil. The ship arrived at the Port of Santos near Sao Paulo on February 12, 1963, marking the inception of Korean immigration to Brazil. Fifty years later, around 50,000 Korean expatriates live in Brazil, and Korean businesses play an important role in the country’s economy. But to many Brazilians, Korea still remains an unfamiliar land. The current special exhibition is the highlight of the Korea Festival taking place throughout Brazil, which aims to introduce Korea and its culture to the largest country in South America.
The exhibition consists of two parts. Part One introduces white porcelain from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), selected from the collection of NMK. Part Two presents contemporary Korean ceramic works, including some sculptures and installation works that feature ceramics as their principal material or motif. Part One features 70 porcelain wares, including 11 buncheong wares (traditional bluish-green Korean stoneware) and 56 white porcelain wares, including the buncheong ware with fish design, conveying the lively aesthetic sense that characterized the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th Century.
Joseon white porcelain embodies the values and ideals of the era’s dominant ideology, neo-Confucianism, which focused on logic and ethics. The plain white porcelain presents a sharp contrast to ceramics made during the Buddhism-oriented Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), commonly referred to as Goryeo celadon, which were much more luxuriously decorated. The Joseon white porcelain vessels are organized in three sections: “Ceramics of a New Era: White Porcelain”; “Patterns on White Porcelain”; and “The Scholarly Confucian Class of the Kingdom and White Porcelain.” The first section features placenta jars that were once used to contain the afterbirth remains of royal and privileged children; household wares buried with the dead; and pure white porcelain utensils used in ancestral rites. The second section includes patterned porcelain works, such as a jar with ten creatures of longevity design, and a bowl with Chinese characters for longevity and fortune, conveying the deep-seated wishes of the Joseon people for wealth, longevity, and happiness, the same goals most of us strive for today. The final section features ceramic works used by Confucian scholars, the primary owners of porcelain wares. In addition to various decorative jars, the section presents porcelain brush holders and yeonjeok (water droppers for making ink) to enable visitors to appreciate the practical nature of these invaluable ceramic works.
Part Two of the exhibition presents contemporary artworks related to ceramics by 11 artists, including buncheong wares by Yoon Kwang-cho and Roe Kyung Jo, white porcelain wares by Kim Ik Yeong and Hwang Gap-sun, and an arresting work by Lee Soo-Kyung created from porcelain shards. In addition, Ko Young Hoon and Koo Bohnchang portray Joseon-era earthenware through paintings and photography, respectively, while Shin Meekyoung presents replicas of Korean and Chinese traditional ceramic vases made from soap. Furthermore, Shin Sang-ho projects the image of a patchwork quilt though 75 ceramic tiles, Park Sung Tae paints children’s faces on the surface of round ceramic wares, and Cheong Kwang Ho re-creates pottery works with thin copper wire, quite the opposite of ceramic works in terms of material. These contemporary works of art perfectly complement the traditional Korean porcelain wares on display, while demonstrating the unique and striking aesthetic sensibilities of today’s Korean artists.
This special exhibition is being held in Brazil’s most representative art museum, the MASP, thanks to the coincidence of the overseas exhibition project of the National Museum of Korea and the Korea Festival project in Brazil, launched by the Korea Foundation. This is a landmark exhibition for Korea, in that it is the first-ever display of Korean cultural heritage in South America. It also marks the first time that NMK has incorporated contemporary works of art into one of its exhibitions. This unprecedented decision was made in the hopes of creating a more accessible atmosphere for the introduction of Korean fine art to Brazil, while heightening Brazilians’ interest in the full spectrum of Korean culture, past and present. The event is expected to spark considerable interest in the active cultural exchange between Korea and Brazil, while further enhancing the two nations’ friendly relations.
Part I: Korean Ceramics of the National Museum of Korea Buncheong Ware with Fish Design, Joseon (15th Century) White Porcelain Bottle, Joseon (15th Century) White Porcelain Bowl for Ancestral Rite, Joseon (18th Century) Part II: Contemporary Works of Art Chaos, Yoon Kwang-cho, 2007, Red soil Wrap, Shin Sang-ho, 2009, Ceramics Translated Vase, Lee Soo-Kyung, 2007, Gold-plated porcelain shards ??
Part I: Korean Ceramics of the National Museum of Korea
Buncheong Ware with Fish Design, Joseon (15th Century)
White Porcelain Bottle, Joseon (15th Century)
White Porcelain Bowl for Ancestral Rite, Joseon (18th Century)
Part II: Contemporary Works of Art
Chaos, Yoon Kwang-cho, 2007, Red soil
Wrap, Shin Sang-ho, 2009, Ceramics
Translated Vase, Lee Soo-Kyung, 2007, Gold-plated porcelain shards