A first-ever collaboration between R 20th Century in New York and the renowned Gallery Seomi in Seoul, Korea, marks the first U.S. debut for a new generation of Korean artists. The collection establishes a new visual vocabulary that combines venerated Korean aesthetic traditions, iconography and techniques with contemporary ideas and forms, and features ceramics and sculptural carved furniture in wood, metal, and stone. About the artists: Byung-Hoon Choi is an internationally respected master of 20th century Korean design. His work calls to mind that of icons such as Alvar Aalto, Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore, but is wholly singular in Choi's evocation of Korean cultural symbols and his own artistic vision. His soft, organic forms capture the tranquility of his country's landscape. The play of weight in his furniture design seems to conquer the notion of balance, creating an almost magical sense of strength and stability from within each piece. In recent work he experiments with carbon fiber, a feather-light new material that he juxtaposes beautifully with dense black granite. Hun-Chung Lee takes materials often considered cold-such as concrete and steel-and softens them almost past the point of recognition through handwork and applied layers of patina. In his magnificent ceramic stools and objects, the seemingly chaotic pattern of glaze belies Lee's careful, painterly control of palette that emerges upon closer observation. Dae-Sup Kwon's Moon Jars are a triumph of tradition, extraordinary skill and a ceaseless dedication to his craft. Originally made in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Moon Jar form evokes the full moon and the circle of life. Historically, it was honored for its colorless purity, upon which slight imperfections in the material-varying tones and effects produced in the kiln-appear almost regal. The natural and simple silhouette of these pieces reveals a Korean aesthetic, differentiating Kwon's work from the Moon Jars of other East Asian cultures. His examples are such an absolute milk white color that they appear almost translucent. The long firing time and high kiln heat make Kwon's Moon Jars exceptionally difficult to produce, with 4 to 6 examples typically made per year. Zong-Sun Bahk's lighting transcends the idea of a functional object. The shadows cast by the glow from within the pieces imbue the spidery frames with life, creating an otherworldly presence. Jin Jang's work is the epitome of technical mastery-light, perfectly balanced, textured and colored with a sure hand and a tranquil, beautiful design sense. The almost complete absence of weight makes each use of these breathtaking mugs and bowls a truly inspiring experience, one that is rarely produced by an everyday object. The exhibition runs March 2 - May 16, with an opening reception Monday, March 1, 6-8 pm at R Gallery.
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