Yeesookyung’s ceramic vases: Imperfection & surprising results

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

Introduction

Yeesookyung is a South Korean artist living in Seoul. She is known for her complex and enchanting ceramic designs and sculptures. Like many of her works, the Translated series series 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 observing 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.

Yeesookyung’s technique

To create the Translated Vase, Yeesookyung uses epoxy resin for gluing 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 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 adds an element of humor to the work.

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

What is Kintsukuroi?

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 Kintsukuroi1 also uses metals such as platinum and silver for the repairing process.

Video: Yee Sookyung & the metaphors buried deep within her broken vases

1 min 51 sec

What do the vases represent?

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 break the ceramic tradition that insists on perfection.

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 shards, 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 shards, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 85 x 170 x 80cm

Video: Interview with Yeesookyung

8 min 32 sec

Conclusion

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.

Photos

Vases
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf 13 × 12 3/5 × 12 3/5 in 33 × 32 × 32 cm
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – 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)
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2014, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24-carat gold leaf, 44 x 44 x 44 cm
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 61 x 47 x 52 cm
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 61 x 47 x 52 cm
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 44 x 50 x 44 cm
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 44 x 50 x 44 cm
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24 k gold leaf, 37 x 31 x 34 cm
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2007, Ceramic trash, aluminum bar, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 43 x 45 x 49 cm
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2008, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf 35 × 20 1:2 × 19 3:10 in 89 × 52 × 49 cm
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2016, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 174 x 128 x 120 cm
Yeesookyung - TRANSLATED VASE_2018 TVG 6, 2018, ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf, 71 x 55 x 60 cm (28 x 21 2/3 x 23 5/8 inches)
Yeesookyung – TRANSLATED VASE_2018 TVG 6, 2018, ceramic shards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf, 71 x 55 x 60 cm (28 x 21 2/3 x 23 5/8 inches)
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24K gold leaf,, 66 x 64 x 97cm
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2011, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 66 x 64 x 97 cm
Yeesookyung - Translated Vase, 2009, Ceramic shards, aluminum bars, epoxy resin, 24K gold leaf, 122x84x81cm
Yeesookyung – 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
Yeesookyung – 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.
Yeesookyung – Translated Vase, 2007, Ceramic shards, epoxy, 24K gold leaf, 120 x 210 x 95cm, installation view, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea

All images by Yeesookyung unless otherwise noted.

 

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Related readings
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi

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