Archive: ceramics
Korean vases: Imperfection gives way to stunning results

Korean vases: Imperfection gives way to stunning results

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase Thousand, 2012. Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf. Dimensions variable, Korea Artist Prize, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea
Translated Vase Thousand, 2012. Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf. Dimensions variable, Korea Artist Prize, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea

Yeesookyung is a South Korean artist living in Seoul. She is known for her complex and enchanting ceramic designs and sculptures. The Translated series series, like many of her works, is made up of shards and fragments of broken ceramic pieces that are carefully pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Yeesookyung created her Translated Vase back in 2002 after she observed discarded trash from the ceramic master Lim Hang Taek glimmering in the sunlight. The reflection of light from the shards and the organic forms of the cracks inspired her craft.

To create the Translated Vase, Yeesookyung uses epoxy resin to glue together the different fragments of the broken pots. To make the fissures and the cracks more prominent, Yeesookyung uses 24-carat gold leaf for glazing. The gold acts as the perfect addition to complement the beautifully misshapen fractures of the re-constructed vase.

The biomorphic form of the vessel helps to capture the eye immediately as the repurposed pottery created manages to surpass the original beauty of the vase. The Translated Vase combines the delicate fragility of ceramic pottery with the fortified strength of the glue and the gold, the end result of which is something truly magnificent. Yeesookyung covers the cracks in gold because the Korean word for crack and gold is similar. The use of products that share the same name also helps to add an element of humor to the work.

Yeesookyung’s technique in pottery, as stunning as it may be is not new. For years, artists in Korea have been reconstructing and rebuilding discarded ceramic pieces that would typically be considered trash in other parts of the world. The waste is sometimes restored to create new Korean ceramics while others like Yeesookyung’s are used as art. This art form, known as Kinstukuroi also uses metals such as platinum and silver for the repairing process.

The Translated Vase represents the struggle that all individuals face in life. The cracks on the vase represent the wounds that are formed from the struggle while the gold represents the beauty and maturity that people experience when they overcome suffering. Aside from denoting the suffering, Yeesookyung’s attention to detail helped to break the ceramic tradition that insists on perfection.

Rather than discard a perfect piece, like a master potter would, Yeesookyung chose to create new forms from the useless pieces to emphasize that imperfection can also give way to stunning beauty. It is safe to say that the Translated Vase succeeded in channeling the imperfections and irregularities that exist in nature.

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf. Dimensions variable
Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf. Dimensions variable”

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase (Detail), 2009, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf. Dimensions variable
Translated Vase (Detail), 2009, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf. Dimensions variable

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf 13 × 12 3:5 × 12 3:5 in 33 × 32 × 32 cm
Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf, 33 × 32 × 32 cm”

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 34 cm diameter
Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 34 cm diameter

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2014, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24-carat gold leaf 44 x 44 x 44 cm (17.32 x 17.32 x 17.32 in)
Translated Vase, 2014, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24-carat gold leaf 44 x 44 x 44 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 61 x 47 x 52 cm
Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 61 x 47 x 52 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 44 x 50 x 44 cm
Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 44 x 50 x 44 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 37 x 31 x 34 cm
Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 37 x 31 x 34 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2007, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 43 x 45 x 49cm
Translated Vase, 2007, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 43 x 45 x 49cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2008, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf 35 × 20 1:2 × 19 3:10 in 89 × 52 × 49 cm
Translated Vase, 2008, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf, 89 × 52 × 49 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic Shards, Epoxy, 24k Gold Leaf, 160 x 92 x 95 cm
Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic Shards, Epoxy, 24k Gold Leaf, 160 x 92 x 95 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2010, ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 karat gold leaf 135 x 85 x 85 cm
Translated Vase, 2010, ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 karat gold leaf, 135 x 85 x 85 cm”

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2010, ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 karat gold leaf 158 x 90 x 90 cm
Translated Vase, 2010, ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 karat gold leaf, 158 x 90 x 90 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2016, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf_174(h) x 128 x 120cm
Translated Vase, 2016, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 174 x 128 x 120cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24K gold leaf,, 66 x 64 x 97cm
Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 66 x 64 x 97cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic shards, aluminum bars, epoxy resin, 24K gold leaf, 122x84x81cm
Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic shards, aluminum bars, epoxy resin, 24K gold leaf, 122 x 84 x 81 cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2014, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 220x110x100cm
Translated Vase, 2014, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 220 x 110 x 100 cm”

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2007, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 120x210x95cm. Collection of National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea.
Translated Vase, 2007, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 120 x 210 x 95cm, Collection of National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase (Installation View), 2009, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 85 x 170 x 80cm 2
Installation View of Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 85 x 170 x 80cm

Yeesookyung - Translated Vase (Installation View), 2009, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 85 x 170 x 80cm
Installation View of Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 85 x 170 x 80cm


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Colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Joan Miró - 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain detail
Joan MiróWall of the Barcelona Airport (detail), 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain

If you have ever been to Barcelona, you must have walked over one of Joan Miro’s mosaics. The artist began to publicly display his work in 1976 when he chose the centre of Barcelona’s Rambla to permanently incorporate his work into a pavement. This was in fulfilment of a pledge he had made in 1968 to create four pieces of art which he would donate to the city of Barcelona where he was born. The use of different colors in the mosaic brings out the vibrancy that is his style of art. All the artwork that is associated with Joan Miró speaks the language of simplicity; generous use of color and simple shapes. More than four decades after his first outdoor work of art, the works of Joan Miró located in various parts of the world are enjoying facelifts of massive proportions.

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Bridging cultures with influential sculptures & furniture – Isamu Noguchi

Bridging cultures with influential sculptures & furniture – Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 1

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 1
Isamu NoguchiRed Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA

A walk through Japan reveals the close correlation between nature and aesthetics. Amid the natural setup are works of art that remind everyone about the history, beliefs and affiliations of the Japanese people. The modern art concept of creating spectacular pieces to create an art park is becoming rather common owing to the pioneer work of artists like Isamu Noguchi. Having been an artist for 60 years, he has helped shape the aesthetic and cultural appearance of Japan and the US through the creation of sculpture parks. Even in death, Noguchi is still recognized for his artwork on furniture, gardens, ceramics and architecture. Although considered subtle and bold during his time, his work is now the standard for modern and expressionist art.

Owing to his mixed heritage, Isamu Noguchi was an internationalist and it is during his travels that he picked up the inspiration to express himself in sculptures. His inspiration for large scale sculpture works with a story actually came from Mexico. He would then incorporate Japanese tranquil garden and earthy ceramic setup as well as the Chinese light ink brushing technique into his work. As one would imagine, what he created from bringing together these different aspects was epic creativity. Once he had settled in his trade, he would maintain studios in New York and Japan, perhaps to declare allegiance to his roots. The works of Isamu Noguchi are evidently aimed at enhancing harmony in human coexistence. The blend of Western and Eastern cultures, modern and traditional life, organic and geometric alignment of nature are some of the efforts Isamu Noguchi made to create tranquility in his work.

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 2
Isamu NoguchiRed Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 3
Isamu NoguchiRed Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA

Isamu Noguchi - Octetra, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA
Isamu NoguchiOctetra, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA

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Cute or dark and frightening? You decide

Cute or dark and frightening? You decide

Yoshitomo Nara - Yellow in Blue, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 150 cm
Yoshitomo Nara – Yellow in Blue, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 150 cm

Yoshitomo Nara was born in Hirosaki, Japan in 1959 and is a Japanese artist whose work has been exhibited around the world. He lives and works in Tokyo, and Japanese popular culture plays an influential role in his world. Nara studied at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music where he received his B.F.A. (1985) and an M.F.A. (1987). He also studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, in Germany between 1988 and 1993.

The work has several influences including manga and anime of the 1960s as seen in Nara’s large-eyed figures. He challenges these characteristically cute images by juxtaposing them with dark and frightening imagery. This infusion of horror changes the image altogether, the contrast of the innocent large eyed child with the imagery of human evil may be a response to Japan’s strict social conventions. Other influences of Nara’s work include punk rock music, Renaissance painting, ukiyo-e and graffiti.

The artist grew up in post-World War II Japan, and the sociocultural environment at this time certainly affected his mindset and artwork. During his childhood and youth, Japan was being barraged by Western pop culture. Nara was raised in the countryside, fairly isolated, and as the child of two working-class parents, he was often left alone while his parents were at work. This time alone with his imagination played a significant role in his artistic development.

His first major New York Exhibition “Nobody’s Fool“ in 2010 at the Asia Society featured over one hundred works from the 1980s to his current works. His work features ceramics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and large-scale installations. Nara is one of the leading artists of Japan’s influential Neo Pop art, and has become infamous for his portrayals of children and animals. Although the children and animals he creates are adorable they are often menacing, causing viewers to contemplate the feelings and concepts behind his work. Underneath the popular appeal of the dark but adorable characters in his work are the somber social, political, and personal elements of his work: darker emotions of loneliness in a rigid society, rage, fear, and helplessness. Nara uses soft pastels and the apiece of cute and vulnerable children and animals as opposed to punk rock imagery. He also takes inspiration from the positive values of Japanese tradition and combines traditional with contemporary. The subjects of his work, the wide-eyed children and animals, whose vulnerability and in addition to the nightmarish features of his paintings can easily stimulate distressing feelings. He often uses soft hued, pastel colors with bold lines as seen in anime characters in popular culture. The children featured in Nara’s works sometimes wield weapons such as knives and saws; their expressions are haunting, their eyes giving viewers accusatory looks. It is with his use of contrasting images, colors, and emotions that Nara’s work has captured the imaginations of generations around the world.

Yoshitomo Nara - Night Walker, 2001
Yoshitomo Nara – Night Walker, 2001

Yoshitomo Nara - No Means No, 1995, 55 x 65cm (21 5/8 x 25 9/16in), acrylic on canvas
Yoshitomo Nara – No Means No, 1995, acrylic on canvas, 55x65cm

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You won’t find these tapestries in any church (NSFW)

You won’t find these tapestries in any church (NSFW)

Erin M Riley - Self Portrait 2, 72 x 48 inch, 2015

Erin M. RileySelf Portrait 2, 2015, Hand woven tapestry, hand dyed wool on a cotton warp, 182.9 x 121.9 cm

Is there a better reflection of a culture than the creatives living in it? From painters to photographers to poets, the voice of our moment is often told most aptly and timelessly through what they create. The same goes for Erin M. Riley. She has taken a look at both her own and the collective conscious of the individuals of today and laid what she sees for all to witness. 

She creates tapestries depicting occasionally controversial subject matter involving porn, guns and drugs. Her work has been featured in magazines and shown at numerous galleries both in her home country of the US as well as internationally.

Having just recently come across Erin’s work, I was full of questions- hard, silly and serious. I reached out to her in the end of 2015. This is the conversation that followed.

Phil America

Let’s start from the beginning. How did you first learn to start weaving?

I found weaving in college. I was interested in sewing and painting, and the fibers major was something that sat perfectly between those two. I could learn construction alongside fine art sensibilities. Weaving was a process I had no knowledge of and I connected instantly with it.

From there how did you progress into having a specific style?

I learned “tapestry” early on and was weaving abstract pieces while also making lots of paper collage work out of found and family photographs that used the silhouette a lot. These eventually led me to combining the two, making simple drawings that I translated into tapestry using a very limited color palette. This progressed and eventually I was using found and photographs I was taking for the work.

Marshall McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message.” How does the medium you choose to work with inform the subtext of the image?

Weaving is just another way to arrange color on a 2 dimensional surface. I am an image maker. Think of me as a painter who uses yarn.

Erin M Riley - Alone Alone, 48 x 37 inch, 2014

Erin M. RileyAlone Alone, 2014, Hand woven tapestry, hand dyed wool on a cotton warp, 121.9 x 94 cm

Erin M Riley - Loot 5, 42 x 26 inch, 2012

Erin M. RileyLoot 5, 2012, Hand woven tapestry, hand dyed wool on a cotton warp, 106.7 x 66 cm

I know you told me before but how long does each piece take you, roughly, and do you ever get halfway done with a piece and scrap it?

I have only stopped two pieces, one because I had to move my loom and another because it was to small to get the detail I wanted. My work takes from a week to a month to weave, I work 12-14 hour days, every day and I also mix and dye my colors, plus all other prep.

I am really fascinated by how much work goes into each one. A lot of other artists do similar work to yours by designing it digitally. Can you explain
the process of creating one of your works?

There is either digitally woven work or work that is hired out. I work from images so I collect or take photos for an upcoming piece, blow it up to scale and start a line drawing that will be pinned behind the warp on the loom. I collect and prepare colors for the pieces and get everything ready to start weaving, after that its just a slow and steady process of weaving the image from the bottom up. Historically tapestry is woven side to side but I weave bottom to top.

Why do you choose using images of guns and porn rather than flowers or other imagery traditionally seen in tapestry?

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