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Past Exhibitions


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Inspired Simplicity: Contemporary Art from Korea

Jul 19 – Dec 7 2008

Asian Art Museum

Tateuchi Galleries

SAM video: Interviews with featured artists

This exhibition showcases the work of three contemporary Korean artists who are new to SAM's permanent collection and illustrates their ties to that country's past. Each of these artists is continuing and re-interpreting an aesthetic developed during the Choson period (1392–1910), a time when Korea embraced Neo-Confucianism. Followers of Neo-Confucianism sought to cultivate self-control and humility. White was a supremely important color, signifying integrity, innocence and purity. A variety of whites, often set in beautiful contrast with cobalt blue, are displayed on porcelain works from the 17th to the 19th century.

Inspired Simplicity reflects the austerity and rigor of the artistic expression of that era. Contemporary ceramics artist Park Young-sook (born 1947) is revising the elegant shape and snowy-white color of the "moon jar," regarded as the epitome of the Choson sensibility. Another ceramicist, Kim Yik-yung (born 1935), explores a forceful beauty through sculpture inspired by traditional ritual containers. In Four Admonishments by Cheng Yi, calligrapher Son Man-jin (born in 1964) refers to four practices that Neo-Confucianism considered essential to perfect virtue (Look, Listen, Speak and Act), expressing them in abstract form with powerful brushwork. Also on view are oil paintings by Chun Sung-woo, inspired by blue and white porcelain, and photographs of ancient Korean porcelain vessels, taken by Koo Bohnchang.

–Yukiko Shirahara, John A. McCone Foundation Curator of Asian Art