Translated Vase: A Memoir of Korean Ceramics
Art Initiative Chicago
It began for me when I encountered the newly acquired Translated Vase by Yeesookyung. This contemporary artwork consists of shards of celadons and white porcelains that have been pieced together until they are transformed into an organic shape that seems to grow, as if each piece has its own life.
The upper half is composed of broken pieces of Korean celadons, the green-glazed stoneware that exemplifies the artistic achievement of the Goryeo dynasty (912–1392). Goryeo celadons are characterized by an extraordinary jade color and creative figurative shapes. In some cases, they have elegant surface designs inlaid with the clay of a different color, a technical innovation of the Goryeo dynasty called sanggam.
The lower half of Translated Vase comprises fragments of white porcelain, a ceramic type of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). They are noted for simple forms, a white color that symbolizes the Confucian virtue of rectitude, and sometimes painterly drawings on their surface with luxurious cobalt blue pigment.
Translated Vase resonated with another contemporary work I encountered at the same time: Nancy Rubins’s Our Friend Fluid Metal, on view on the museum’s Bluhm Family Terrace. For her series, Rubins had collected abandoned kiddie rides from playgrounds and amusement parks and reassembled them into a dynamic shape. Joined by lines of wire, the resulting form expands like an atomic structure.
April 26, 2022