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Lee Kang-hyo Potter of the Four Elements


Lee Kang-hyo Potter of the Four Elements

goldmark 2017

Lee Kang-hyo Potter of the Four Elements Shoji Hamada, Ryoji Koie, Jun Kaneko, Peter Voulkos; all have made some very big pots, and all have treated ceramics as a performance art. The motion, even drama of making, whether in the privacy of the studio or the public arena of workshop demonstration, has been integral to their practice. The process feeds the potter and it feeds the pots, the ‘bodily transference’ about which Michael Cardew and Patrick Heron have written. Heron has described the matter of making as an innately physical act of expression, a pent-up creative tension released from the diaphragm and through the arm and hands. Artists like Voulkos or Koie have worked rapidly, with a kind of gestural attack. As Voulkos said, ‘The quicker I work the better. . .if I start thinking and planning, I start contriving and designing. I work mostly from gut feeling.’ The apparently quieter, more reticent Lee Kang-Hyo has his own dance of making, almost like a ballet, a bodily freeing-up which releases his mind too. My potter father even compared sweeping his workshop floor to a kind of dance, with its own rhythms. There are particular motions involved when Lee prepares a roll of clay, when he builds or throws or decorates the surfaces of his pots, which range from small bowls, faceted bottles and caddies to his powerful ‘onggi’ jars. These jars adopt


8 Squared Bottle, Punch'ong 33 x 19 cm

a traditional Korean earthenware shape (historically made for food storage and fermentation), ideal for his interest in ‘space and mass’ and the expressive ideas of this very modern artist. ‘Sculptural’ is a term bandied about by critics to describe a whole range of ceramics that work beyond the table (though of course the best tableware has many of its qualities). Lee’s pots are rooted in function, but they have a sculptural boldness and simplicity with their upward swelling movement, their containment which grows and expands, all part of the feeling that is so integral to Lee when he is potting. Like Voulkos he stresses the gut quality in what he does, the fact that it is a deeply instinctive process. Slips are poured, flicked and spattered on to his onggi jars until there is a total covering which he may spread by hand before a fresh coat is applied and perhaps the surface scored through with various marks. These coverings have considerable depth, a kind of impasto, but there is a nuanced subtlety in the fluid textures that result. This whole activity is part of the loosening up that followed conversations with the Japanese potter Ryoji Koie, who observed that Lee was ‘locked into himself’, and needed to adopt a much freer, more open philosophy. Despite the vigour of their making, there is also a great sense of pause and stillness in what Lee does. He talks about the energy and the calm in his work being one and the same; ‘I use clay, but it all comes out of my body...I express myself differently, it depends on the kind of energy I have when I make each pot.’ His surfaces remind one of modern abstraction in painting, but

158. Onggi Vase Punch'ong, Cosmos 67 x 72 cm


more fundamentally they evoke aspects of nature, the surfaces of stones and pebbles, the bark of a tree, the textures of cloudscapes. As he says, ‘the everlasting theme in my work is based on mountains, fields and sky’, and his marking certainly has a soft lyrical quality akin to a range of mystical depictions of Oriental landscapes. They possess this same sense of calm and meditation, of other-worldliness, a sort of Korean sublime. Lee’s big moon jars also epitomise that ‘love of the fullness of form and volume’, so important to him, and ‘fullness’ is certainly how we would describe his pots. They have all the ethereality of their Korean tradition, with their varied white slips, perhaps animated by the quietest stroke of a stiff brush, adding a horizontal ripple. Lee’s pots have their own weather and atmosphere; a flattened bottle has flecked surfaces like thickly falling snow, a lidded box is glazed like a water surface, with the blurred colours and shapes of reflection. Or we could be looking into the changing, flickering light and abstractions of a leaf canopy. Lee’s palette is earthy and beautifully wintery, full of the delicacy, the pale hues and mists of the colder Korean months. Bottles and plates are spirited by incised trees and grasses, stirring in the wind. Given his materials, his techniques and inspiration, Lee is certainly a potter of the Four Elements. His second Goldmark exhibition is probably his strongest show to date, a rich collection of forms; small jugs wiped with hakame, others crisply faceted and mottled by the kiln. There are the quietest bottles, cylindrical or paddled, and dark plates


with breezy willow decoration. There are freely made conical vases with horizontal incising and splayed bases, which show how successfully Lee can give Korean tradition a contemporary voice. Large relaxed bowls, like sagged baskets, are warped and squeezed into new states of plasticity. He has made generous runs of particular shapes; broad flatform slab pieces with motional layers of slip spread and rubbed over, socalled ‘oval’ bottles with rapid calligraphic marking, full-bellied globular pots, and series of tactile cups, tea bowls and beakers, some swathed in hakame. All show how variously Lee Kang-Hyo journeys within an idea or theme. He says, ‘Making art is like setting off to travel to places to find peace in the mind.’ It is wonderful that we too can partake in this remarkable voyage. David Whiting

157. Onggi Vase Punch'ong, Forest 68 x 75 cm

53. Big Jar Punch'ong 27 x 51 cm

54, 57, 56. Big Jars Punch'ong approx 23 x 39 cm

55. Big Jar Punch'ong 21 x 41 cm

10. Big Bottle Punch'ong 43 x 30 cm


7. Squared Bottle Punch'ong 33 x 20 cm

16, 12. Squared Flat Bottles Punch'ong 43 x 30 cm, 30 x 24 cm

9. Big Bottle Punch'ong 47 x 30 cm


3. Wall Piece Punch'ong, Wind 6 x 54 cm


2. Wall Piece Punch'ong, Wind 4 x 52 cm


1. Wall Piece Punch'ong, Mountain 5 x 53 cm


59. Big Bowl Punch'ong 16 x 42 cm

32. Box Punch'ong 20 x 25 cm


51, 52 49. Boxes Punch'ong approx 14 x 30 cm



30, 31. Lidded Jars Punch'ong 23 x 27 cm, 23 x 23 cm

116. Box Punch'ong 10 x 20 cm


37. Box Punch'ong 18 x 45 cm



35. Box Punch'ong 23 x 26 cm


15. Flat Bottle Punch'ong 36 x 29 cm

14,17. Flat Bottles Punch'ong 35 x 30 cm, 40 x 32 cm

18,19, 20. Oval Bottles Punch'ong approx 22 x 32 cm

69-75. Tea Jars Punch'ong aprox 14 x 11 cm

93. Faced Bottle Punch'ong 21 x 18 cm

80, 79, 77. Small Faced Bottles Punch'ong 15 x 12 cm

105-114. Tea Bowls Punch'ong 9 x 13 cm

88. Set of Nine Teacups Punch'ong 7 x 7 cm

84. Set of Nine Small Tea Bowls Punch'ong 7 x 10 cm

Biography 1961 Born in Korea 1983 B.F.A. Department of Ceramics, Hong-ik University, Seoul, Korea 1985-88 Studied the making of onggi ware in Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea

Solo Exhibitions 2017 2015 2014 2012 2010 2009 2008 2006

2005 2003

2002 2001 2000 1999 1997 1996 1993

Goldmark Gallery (Uppingham, UK) Buncheong and Beyond, Cross Point Gallery (Seoul,Korea) Goldmark Gallery (Uppingham, UK) Gallery LeBeige (Seoul, Korea) Art Factory Gallery (Paju, Korea) Song House Gallery (Busan, Korea) Chung So Young Gallery (Seoul, Korea) Pucker Gallery (Boston, USA) Pucker Gallery (Boston, USA) Space Mom Museum (Cheongju, Korea) Cheongbaek Gallery (Daegu, Korea) Ye Song Gallery (Daegu, Korea) Tong-In Gallery (New York, USA) Tong-In Auction Gallery (Seoul, Korea) Tea bowls Gallery Mamoe (Seoul, Korea) Gallery Jo (Seoul, Korea) Moosim Gallery (Cheongju, Korea) Togo Gallery (Mashiko, Japan) Hand Gallery (Nagoya, Japan) Moosim Gallery (Cheongju, Korea) Semi Gallery (Seoul, Korea) Hakcheon Gallery (Cheongju, Korea) To Art Space Gallery (Seoul, Korea) Hakcheon Gallery (Cheongju, Korea)


Group Exhibitions 2016

2015 2014

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007

2006 2005 2004

International Wood Fired Ceramics 2016, Schaller Gallery (Michigan, USA) Céramique Contemporaine Coréenne, Foundation Bernardaud (Limouges, France) Korea Now! Korean Craft & Design in Munich 2016, Bayerisches National Museum (Munich, Germany) RÉVÉLATIONS, Grand Palais (Paris, France) COLLECT, Saatchi Gallery (London, UK) Empty Fullness, (China, Indonesia, Brazil, Germany) Dual Natures in Ceramics: Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea, SFO Museum (San Francisco, USA) Constancy & Change in Korean Traditional Craft, Triennale di Milano (Milano, Italy / London, UK / Hangzhou, China) Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2013 (Cheongju, Korea) Two Person Show, UM Gallery (Seoul, Korea) Meditative Journeys, Two Person Show, Mindy Solomon Gallery (Miami, USA) Poetry in Clay (San Francisco, USA) Two Person Show, Dongwon Gallery (Daegu, Korea) Life in Ceramics, Fowler Museum (Los Angeles, USA) Take the Old Create a New, Gyeonggi Ceramic Museum (Gwangju, Korea) Gyeonggi International Ceramic Fair 2008 (Goyang, Korea) Traditional Korean Crafts, UN Building (New York, USA) Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2007 (Cheongju, Korea) Tradition Transformed: Contemporary Korean Ceramics, Touring Exhibition (N. Ireland, Spain, UK) Teapot & Art, Uijae Museum (Gwangju, Korea) SOFA International Art Fair (New York, Chicago) The 3rd World Ceramic Biennale 2005, Joseon Royal Kiln Museum (Gwangju, Korea) Korea International Art Fair (Seoul, Korea) From the Fire (USA)

97. Plate Punch'ong 2 x 34 cm






Special Exhibition Traditional Korean Ceramics, Joseon Royal Kiln Museum (Gwangju, Korea) Korean Ceramics: Tradition and Transformation (San Diego, USA) International Art Fair (Busan, Korea) Tea, Zen, Ceramics - The International Living Pottery Art of Taiwan, Japan and Korea (Taiwan) 21st Century Korea Contemporary Artist Exhibition, Sungkyunkwan University Museum (Seoul, Korea) Teapot & Art, Uijae Museum (Gwangju, Korea) Teapot Special Exhibition of Korea, The National Folk Museum of Korea (Seoul, Korea) Two Person Show, Nanohana (Odawara, Japan) Korean Contemporary Ceramic Art Exhibition (Edinburgh, UK) Korean Contemporary Ceramic Art Exhibition (Fukuoka, Japan) Two Person Show, Yamakki Gallery (Kobe, Japan) Two Person Show, Galerie des Emibois (Les Emibois, Switzerland)

International Workshops 2017

2016 2014 2013



Performance - Making Futures Conference (Plymouth, UK) Performance - British Ceramics Biennial (Stoke-on-Trent, UK) Clay College Work Shop (Stoke on Trent, UK) New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University Summer Workshop (Alfred, USA) Performance - Former Seoul Station as Cultural Location 284 (Seoul, Korea) Performance - Honolulu Museum of Art (Honolulu, USA) Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennal 2013 Mentoring Program (Icheon, Korea) Clay Push Gulgong 2013 Workshop (Gulgong, Australia) Performance - Poetry in Clay, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (San Francisco, USA) University of Georgia Work Shop (Athens, USA) Archie Bray International Workshop (Montana, USA)


66. Jug Punch'ong 15 x 14 cm

2005 2004 2003 2001

1999 1993

Wood Kiln Workshop (Gwangju, Korea) Cedar Lake Conference Center (West Virginia, USA) International Wood Fire Conference (Cedar Rapids, USA) Performance - NCECA (San Diego, USA) Onggi American Tour sponsored by the Korea Foundation (State University of New York at New Paltz, Alfred University, Western Illinois State College, University of Iowa, California State University) International Ceramics Festival (Aberystwyth, UK) Togei Messe Mashiko Workshop (Mashiko, Japan) Performance - NCECA (San Diego, USA)

Work in Public Collections Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, USA) Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (San Francisco, USA) British Museum (London, UK) Choson Royal Kiln Museum (Gwangju, Korea) Duxbury Art Complex (Duxbury, USA) Holderness School (Plymouth, USA) Icheon World Ceramics Center (Icheon, Korea) International Ceramic Museum (Faenza, Italy) Musée National de Céramique Sevres (Sèvres, France) Musée Royal De Mariemont (Morlanwelz, Belgium) Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, USA) Newark Museum of Art (New Jersey, USA) Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, USA) SungKyunKwan University Museum (Seoul, Korea) Tokotin Museum of Japanese Art (Haifa, Israel) Togei Messe Mashiko (Mashiko, Japan) Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK)


25. Vase Punch'ong 29 x 22 cm

Text: © David Whiting, 2017 Photographs: © Jay Goldmark Design: Goldmark / Porter ISBN 978-1-909167-46-9 Goldmark, Uppingham Rutland, LE15 9SQ 01572 821424



His surfaces remind one of modern abstraction in painting, but more fundamentally they evoke aspects of nature, the surfaces of stones and pebbles, the bark of a tree, the textures of cloudscapes.

Lee Kang-hyo Exhibition Catalogue 2017  

Catalogue for 2017 Lee Kang-hyo exhibition at Goldmark Gallery.

Lee Kang-hyo Exhibition Catalogue 2017  

Catalogue for 2017 Lee Kang-hyo exhibition at Goldmark Gallery.