Shades of Light


This collection rotation explores the subtle role of light and color in a broad range of Korean creative practices. Translucency and hue change as light reflects off the surface of a vessel, or travels through a textile. In print and photography, the interplay of light and dark is the very substance that gives an image form. Linked by
shared concerns of light and materiality, the makers of these works demonstrate how light is not only integral to our understanding of an object, but also central to its creation.

In particular the exhibition highlights Korean ceramics through the superlative celadon glazes of the Goryeo period (918–1392) and the later taste for white porcelain in the Joseon period (1392–1897). Alongside the historical examples are recent works by contemporary artists who investigate these traditions in their own practice.

Korea, unknown artist

Bojagi, 20th century
Ramie cloth
Gift of Bongja Jung in honor of Junghee Lee, 2006.5.2

During the Joseon period (1392–1910), it became popular to create quilted bojagi. This style of traditional Korean patchwork is called jogakbo, and involves repurposing leftover fabric scraps from weaving and embroidery projects. This practice was closely associated with women’s labor and artistry in the Joseon period, and more recently has evolved into new forms of textile art, fashion, and installation.

The sealed, flat seams that join different pieces of fabric are created through a triple-stitching technique, and enhance the distinctive geometry of jogakbo. The
translucent ramie fabric scraps used in this bojagi result in a muted, elegant palette; it is completed with pale pink silk ties at each corner.

[Artwork Description: This piece of traditional Korean cloth patchwork is about 31” square. It is composed of translucent ramie cloth fragments that range in color to gray and white in what seems to be a random way. The fragments, which are all the same width (roughly 5”), are stacked into six vertical columns, each containing six or seven cloth fragments. Most of the fragments run the full width of the column, but some are subdivided vertically into two parts. The horizontal organization of the fragments also seems random but is more complicated. Most of the fragments are simple rectangles, but many are bisected diagonally, creating triangular shapes with cut-off points. Some of the squares are divided horizontally into a shallow rectangle set above a deeper rectangle or vice versa. Sometimes one section is a different color from the other; sometimes the sections are the same color. The effect is of orderliness that is also unpredictable, and spontaneous. The fragments are sewn together using a “sealed flat seam” technique (a kind of “triple stitching”) designed to enhance the distinctive geometry of the bojagi. The cloth is edged with a narrow strip of red fabric, with pale pink silk ties at each corner.]

한국 전라남도 강진군 용운리 청자음각앵무문대접

Korea, Jeollanam-do province, Gangjin-gun, Yongun-ri

Shallow bowl with double parrot design, Goryeo period (918–1392), 11th century

Light gray stoneware with incised decoration under olive-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.4

The parrot design was a popular motif in Yue ware celadons produced in Zhejiang province, China. The design also became favored in Korea as a motif in Goryeo-period art, revealing the international, cosmopolitan taste of the time. Parrots are usually depicted as a pair and symbolize conjugal harmony.

[Artwork Description: Light gray stoneware with incised decoration under olive-green celadon glaze. This bowl is positioned standing on its edge, slightly tilted backward, so its shape is visible from the side as is its decorated interior. The bowl is a little over 8” wide and 3 ½” deep, the sides resting on a foot about ½” deep and 2 ¾” wide. The sides of the bowl drop down about 3” while traveling more than 5” inward, forming a rather flat but graceful arc. The carved design covers the whole interior surface of the bowl thought the lines are difficult to make out. There are three elements: a large “blossom” that fills most of the top half of the surface, and two large “leaf spray” elements below it, one to the left and the other to the right. The blossom, which is presented from the side, has five roughly ovoid, overlapping petals, each about 2″ long and 1 ¼” wide at their widest point; the petals end in a short stem with a couple of small leaflets. To the left and below the blossom, the larger of the two leaf sprays ends in a triple leaflet (located at the center of the bowl) with a stem from which two smaller leaflets extend towards the rim of the bowl and a third leaflet points toward the center. The second leaf spray, set to the right of and below the blossom, directly across the bowl from the first, also ends in a triple leaflet but the stem is shorter and includes only two small lower leaflets. The leaflets vary in size, but the largest ones are about as large as the petals of the blossom. The edges of both the petals and the larger leaflets are fringed. The fringed edges have been cut deeply enough into the clay for the glaze to pool, making the outlines visible. The surfaces of the blossom petals and leaflets have also been slightly carved, so their edges rise slightly above the surface and, holding less glaze, are slightly lighter than the surfaces of the petals and leaflets, giving petals and leaflets a softly modeled effect. The bowl’s surface is smooth but reflects light softly.]

분청사기 인화 무늬 사발

Korea, unknown kiln

Buncheong ware bowl with chrysanthemum and lotus petal designs, 15th century

Stoneware with stamped designs inlaid with white slip under a translucent celadon glaze

Gift of Mrs. Forrest F. Lord, 85.70.3

This bowl exemplifies the gradual transition from late Goryeo inlaid celadon to more distinctive features of early Joseon period Buncheong ware. The overall size and shape closely resembles celadon bowls dated to the end of Goryeo dynasty, but the stamped and inlaid patterns and distinct division of the foot and the lower body are hallmarks of later Buncheong ware.

[Artwork Description: This traditional stoneware piece, with a dull greenish brown glaze, is the size of a soup bowl. A pattern is stamped on the inside and inlaid with paste so that the lines show up white against the greenish background. The top decoration is a series of four thin stripes that encircle the bowl’s circumference. Beneath these lines is a thick band of simplified chrysanthemum-like flowers that have a green middle, encircled by roughly-drawn petals. These are stacked in vertical rows of three, each separated from the next row, and completely encircle the bowl’s interior. Beneath the chrysanthemums are two thin incised lines, followed by a larger band of lotus leaves that are rounded on top with straight sides and a straight base. As with the other designs, the leaves are stamped in the surface and filled so that they show up as white against the underlying glaze. The petals are atop two more thin lines that wrap around the whole bowl, with two additional shorter segments partially seen above and below these stripes.]

청자 양각 모란 무늬 대접

Korea, unknown kiln

Shallow Bowl with Peony Design and Foliate Rim, Goryeo period (918–1392), 12th century

Light gray stoneware with carved decoration under green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.5

This beautifully crafted bowl illuminates the high level of artistry among Korean potters of the Goryeo dynasty. The outlines of the peony were carved with a beveled edge, which allows the glaze to pool to a slightly darker tone.

[Artwork Description: This olive green celadon bowl is just short of 8” in diameter at the rim and almost 2 ½” deep; its curved sides slope downward and inward from the rim to the base at about a 45 degree angle. Its base is about 2 ½” wide. Most of the inner surface of the bowl is covered with carved decorative elements carved that leave a thick line. The pooling of the glaze in the cut-away lines creates distinct light and dark contrasts between the lines and the surrounding clay. Starting from the rim and working in: The outermost inch of the interior surface is undecorated. A triple line separates the plain outer area from two rows of decorative elements, each row extending in a full circle around the inner surface of the bowl. The first row, which is a bit more than 1” deep, is filled with what look like tiny sunflowers stacked three-deep in rows that emanate from the center of the bowl toward the rim. Each tiny flower consists of a large dark dot surrounded by an irregular, lighter circle (the petals); dark, wavy lines separate each flower stack from the adjoining set. (The dark centers of the flowers, and the lines separating each set from the one next to it were created by the pooling of the celadon glaze in the carved away areas. This circle of stacked dark dots is separated from a second decorative circle by a thick dark line outlined by two thinner light lines. The second decorative circle, which is about half as deep as the first circle, is filled with series of upside-down shapes that suggest petals standing side by side in a row around the bowl. The clay has been cut away from the surface around the outlines and from the surface within the lines, so the “petals” are outlined in thick raised lines where the glaze was thin, which contrast with the darker areas around the lines where the glaze pooled. Another double line separates this second row of decorative elements from about the bottom inch of the bowl’s walls. That inch is undecorated as is the bottom of the bowl.]


Korea, unknown kiln

Mallet-shaped Bottle, Goryeo period (918–1392), 11th century

Light gray stoneware with gray-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.2

[Artwork Description: This bottle looks like an upside-down dumbbell and measures 10 5/8” tall and 6” in diameter at its widest point. Starting at the top the lip or mouth is shaped like a small bowl about 3” in diameter by 1” in height, with sides sloping very slightly inward to merge with the bottle’s neck which is about 2 ½” in height by 1 ½” in diameter, slighter wider at top and bottom than in the middle. The neck widens out abruptly to form the shoulder. At almost 6” in diameter, the bulging shoulders are the most prominent part of the bottle. The bottle’s walls then narrow gradually as it merges into the torso which narrows gradually from its 6”+ diameter of the shoulders to the 3 ½” diameter at the jar’s base. Torso and shoulders together are about 7” tall. In color it’s a soft gray-green celadon.]

청자 병

Korea, unknown kiln

Small Bottle with Dish-shaped Mouth, Goryeo period (918–1392), 11th/12th century

Light gray stoneware with blue-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection, Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.3

The blue-green color of the three vessels displayed here demonstrate the height of perfection in celadon glazes in the Goryeo period. This small bottle shows the blue-tinged glaze known as bisaek (secret color). In the twelfth century, a Chinese envoy was so impressed by bisaek ware that he praised it as “first under heaven”— best in the world.

[Artwork Description: This bluish-green stoneware vessel is a small delicate tear-drop shaped bottle with a round-lipped neck sitting atop a tapered stem. The stem flows out into a rounded shape that then tapers back to a smaller base. There is no additional decoration adorning the surface.]

한국 전라남도 강진요 사당리

청자 양각 동자 넝쿨 무늬 대접

Korea, Jeollanam-do province, Gangjin kilns, Sadang-ri

Shallow Bowl with Foliate Rim and Design of Boys at Play among Lotus Scrolls, Goryeo period (918–1392), 12th century

Light gray stoneware with mold-impressed decoration under blue-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection, Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2015.140.1

The molded design of happy children among scrolling vines and lotus blossoms was adopted from Chinese ceramics of the Song dynasty (960–1279). The auspicious motif symbolizes fecundity, abundance, and prosperity for generations. Here it has been executed with exceptional clarity and charm. The soft blue-green color of the glaze represents the ideal sought after by Goryeo potters and their patrons.

[Artwork Description: This luminous blue green bowl has a smooth surface that reflects light in a way that softens its appearance, making it seem to glow. The bowl is mounted standing on its edge, so both its exterior form and its interior decorations are visible. Its diameter is 7 ¼” and has a depth of 2 ¾” with a small base of only about 1” in diameter. The bowl is about 3 times as wide as it is deep, so the walls curve more strongly inward than downward as they move from the rim to the base. The interior decoration is organized into three sections: an outer rim about 1” deep, defined by a thin line running around the bowl’s interior, in which the glaze has pooled, making it easy to see. Shallow, ray-like marks seem to run from the inside of the rim to the bowl’s outer edge, like soft fork marks on the edge of a pie’s top crust; An undecorated circle about 1 ½” in diameter in the center of the bowl’s interior marks the bowl’s base. The sides of the bowl, which take up most of the interior surface, are covered with molded figures which are hard to make out because there’s less pooling of the glaze. Close inspection reveals two or three small figures with round heads, waving arms, and short torsos set equidistant around the center circle and surrounded by lotus flowers (presented in profile) and many other leaf-like elements. The figures are hard to make out; the overall effect is of a surface covered with soft ripples.]

한국 전라남도 강진요 사당리

청자 꽃모양 잔과 잔받침

Korea, Jeollanam-do province, Gangjin kilns, Sadang-ri

Foliated Cup and Stand with Floral Décor, Goryeo period (918–1392), 12th century

Light gray stoneware with incised and molded decoration under blue-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2014.177.1a,b

This exquisite celadon cup forms the shape of an open flower with six petals. Crackles in the glaze were caused as the vessel cooled after firing. Underneath

the crackles, you can see graceful, lightly carved designs of lotus sprays on each lobe of the cup. The raised stand is ornately decorated with inverted lotus petals surrounding an inner support ring and scrolling leaf designs on each the five legs. When viewed from different angles, the crackled and pooled jade-green glaze changes color slightly, an effect of light hitting the surface.

The elegant shape and decoration of this set exemplifies court taste for understated luxury in the 12th century. Due to the refined shade of the glaze, this cup and stand is thought to have been produced in the kilns of Sadang-ri, which produced the most outstanding jade-colored celadons of the Goryeo period.

[Artwork Description: Light gray stoneware with incised and molded decoration under blue-green celadon glaze. This two-piece object consists of a ceramic teacup set on a matching 5-legged ceramic base. The light gray stoneware teacup, which is about 3 ½” wide and 2” deep, is shaped like an open lotus flower with six petals. Seen slightly from above, the rim is a circle with six tiny indentations separating the tops of the petals. The cup is widest at the top; it starts curving downward and inward about an inch from the top until it reaches its small foot (about 1 ½” in diameter by ½” tall). The base looks like an upside-down saucer 4” in diameter, held up by five short legs ending in stubby outward pointing feet. Overall, the saucer and legs are not as tall as the cup but are wider. A hollow ring (2” in diameter and ½” high) rising from the center of the saucer holds the foot of the cup. In contrast to the cup’s body, which is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, the cup’s foot, saucer ring and saucer rim are all slightly wider at their base than at their top. Together, cup and base look a little like a wide- hipped hourglass with feet. The base is heavily decorated with thick raised lines that form horizontal scrolls on its sides, vertically scrolled leaf designs on its legs, and inverted lotus petals on its inner ring. There are also delicately outlined lotus leaves incised in the base’s top surface. The cup is undecorated, except for a loose web of dark, hair-like vertical cracks in the glaze that create lines running up and down the cup’s interior and exterior surfaces. The cup and base are a subtle gray-blue-green; the color varies greatly in intensity depending on how deeply the glaze has pooled in the uneven surfaces of the molded and incised clay. The edge of the cup and the raised edge of the base are pale gray, the color of the clay being visible through the thin glaze. The design elements’ thicker raised lines are a pale green, while the deeply carved out areas between the lines where the glaze has pooled are deep blue green. The contrast between light and dark makes the lines more visible and three dimensional. The color is more uniform on the flat inner and outer surfaces of the cup (the petals), but even here the glaze’s chemical properties create subtle color differences as light hits the surface of the glaze from different angles.]


Joo Jiwan

Korean, born 1965

Ensemble of the Many Shades of Celadon, ca. 2001/2005

Porcelain and stoneware with celadon glazes

Promised gift of Mark Huey and Wayne Wiegand, L2022.39.1a-m

Labyrinths and geometric forms are recurring patterns in the work of Joo Jiwan, who studied ceramics at Ewha Women’s University in Korea. In this group of labyrinth-decorated cubes, Joo references both the celadon perfection achieved by Goryeo potters centuries earlier and the almost unconscious reverberations of Buddhism in her daily life. She says, “[T]he familiarity of Buddhism is like the air that I breathe.” This group of maze-patterned celadon cubes was originally created from a group of 108–a sacred number in Buddhism–built, carved, and fired over the span of one year.

Joo describes her process as meditative and immersive, but has also described a sense of great delight in working within this medium:

“Through the celadon work, I really enjoyed the materials and the process that celadon gives us: producing clay from the earth, making shape, carving the surface, and firing the kiln. Clay is completely changed to a new material during the firing….Everyone who works with ceramic knows the exquisiteness of its materials and process, the miracle of one material becoming another.”

[Artwork Description: The 13 celadon cubes are displayed in two rows in a large case. In the front row are seven cubes: three cubes are stacked in a pyramid in the center of the row, flanked by a single cube to the left, two cubes next to each other to the center cubes’ right, and two stacked cubes at the far right end of the row and set slightly back from the others. The remaining five cubes are positioned behind the front row on three stands: to the far left, a stand about 3” tall supports one cube; to its right a stand also about 3” tall holds two stacked cubes; continuing to the right, a single cube is set on top of a stand about 8” tall, and at the right end of the second row two cubes are stacked on a 6” tall stand. The cubes are glazed in celadon of varying hues and intensities. Three are a rather pale gray-green. Two are a medium gray-green, and the rest are a darker celadon. All the cubes have been carved with geometric designs on all their sides. The glaze has pooled in the carved lines, so that they stand out as dark lines against a lighter background. The carved lines form geometric (straight-line) labyrinths. All the labyrinths have the same dimensions and general appearance, but none appear to be identical to any other. Each traces complex, constantly interrupted paths that don’t appear to go anywhere.]

청자 양각 연꽃잎 무늬 대접

Korea, unknown kiln

Shallow bowl in the shape of a lotus blossom, Goryeo period (918–1392), 12th century

Light gray stoneware with carved decoration under blue-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.7

[Artwork Description: This celadon bowl is about 6 ¾” in diameter at the rim and about 2 ¼” deep. It’s positioned standing on its rim, tilted so the decorative carving of the bowl’s exterior surface is fully visible. A double row of petals carved on the exterior give the bowl the look of a lotus blossom. The petals are more than an inch long, about half an inch wide at their widest point, and come to a point. The lower row of petals emerges from the base of the bowl and extend more than a third of the way up the side of the bowl. The second row of petals is stacked above the bottom row, with each petal emerging from the space left between tops of the petals in the first row. The tops of the top row of petals extend to less than an inch from the rim of the bowl. The celadon glaze has pooled in the petals’ outlines, making them clearly visible. The body of each petal has been lightly carved so that the sides of each petal recede slightly from the petal’s central vein, allowing the glaze to pool slightly, giving the petals a slightly three-dimensional look. The changes in height result in a subtle, rhythmic rise and fall of the petals’ surfaces. The sense of movement is enhanced by way the celadon glaze’s color changes slightly depending on how the light hits that part of the surface. The combination of subtly altered hues and complex petal outlines gives the bowl a look that is constantly changing.]

한국 전라남도 강진군 용운리 청자완

Korea, Jeollanam-do province, Gangjin-gun, Yongun-ri

Conical bowl with everted rim, 10th/11th century

Light gray stoneware with blue-green celadon glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.1

Bowls of this type were produced in great quantities to meet growing demand for tea bowls. The custom of drinking tea had been introduced to Korea from China and was especially in vogue during the Goryeo period, when the court endorsed Buddhism as the official state religion. The narrow foot and pale, even color of this example make for an elegantly simple celadon vessel.

[Artwork Description: This medium size bowl has an elegantly simple form and a smooth, uniformly gray-green surface. The bowl’s only decorative element is a shallow line perhaps 1/16” wide that circles the bowl’s interior surface about 2/3” below the rim, separating the rim from the rest of the bowl. Above the line, the sides of the bowl flare outward and only slightly upward to the bowl’s “everted” rim. Below the line, the sides of the bowl drop more steeply downward and inward in a shallow curve to the bowl’s small foot (a 5” reduction in diameter in 3” of height). In addition to its graceful form, the bowl is notable for the softness and uniformity of its celadon glaze. Except for the slightly darker line that marks the everted rim, and an occasional, barely visible dark fleck in the glaze, the entire interior surface is the same soft blue-green with a warm, grayish tone. The color isn’t flat; there’s a subtle, shifting quality conveying invisible tonal differences that lend depth and variety. The surface is unreflective. A light shining directly onto the bowl’s interior, does not show any bright spots, just a soft glow along the everted rim and where the sides meet the foot. The outside surface of the bowl, which is in shade looks much darker than the interior and seems to reflect light more brightly.]


Goseong Choi

Korean, active United States, born 1984

Untitled (0070), from the series Meji, 2012

Inkjet print

The Blue Sky Gallery Collection; Gift of the Artist, 2015.5.1

[Artwork Description: This closely cropped photograph shows a burnt field with dense clumps of dried grasses swirling across the ashen earth. The straw-like grass in the foreground is lit so that the individual white strands stand out from the dark brown/grey background. The grass becomes less distinct as the landscape recedes. Thin tree limbs emerge from the swirls of grass , most notably in the far left and far right of the photograph. A row of spindly trees line the photo across the upper portion of the image, forming a backdrop as the landscape dissolves into the pale morning light.]


Goseong Choi

Korean, active United States, born 1984

Untitled (0079), from the series Meji, 2012

Inkjet print

The Blue Sky Gallery Collection; Gift of Christopher Rauschenberg, 2015.11.5

Brooklyn-based artist Choi created these photographs while staying in the rural village of Meji in late winter. Daily walks in the forest took him across cropped and burnt fields, where the frozen quiet of the landscape was a balm for personal turmoil. He felt moved by the sight of broken, scattered straw laying atop black ashes of earth. Choi says, “The strokes of straw slashed my mind. It hurt, so I took them.” He captures the forest in the pale light of early morning, when the ocher and black contours of the straw-covered ground resolve only with sustained looking.

[Artwork Description: This closely cropped photograph depicts a burnt field with straw-like grasses covering the foreground and standing out like individual brushstrokes if this were a painting. Bare spindly tree limbs poke out of the scorched earth and travel to the top of the frame. The background is mostly dark brown with patches of ochre that become darker towards the top of the image. Burnt patches of ground are highly visible among the scattered grasses.]

김익영 달항아리

Kim Yikyung

Korean, born 1935

Moon Jar, 2017


Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Asian Art Auction Proceeds, 2017.53.1

Kim Yikyung is one of the most respected ceramic artists in Korea. Having lived through the Japanese occupation (1910–1945) and the war of 1950 to 1953—turbulent times when Korean traditions were disregarded or lost— her goal has been to restore and reinterpret the classical tradition of Korean porcelain.

The dalhangari (moon jar) is considered the most beautiful type of vessel among the many white porcelain wares of the late Joseon period. Named for its shape, it resembles the brilliant full moon. The jar is created by throwing two large bowls that are then luted together and completed with a strong foot. All too often, the upper half slips off center during firing: it takes exceptional skill to throw the two halves of the same density and size. As amply demonstrated here, Kim has mastered this demanding technical challenge.

Graceful but substantial, this moon jar is slightly elongated, with gently sloping walls and just enough surface texture to emphasize the material qualities of the clay and how it has been handled. These subtle variations of proportion and contour are typical of Kim’s practice.

[Artwork Description: Its relatively large, globular form and luminous white surface make the Portland Art Museum’s moon jar stand out among the smaller celadon bowls and jars in the Korean gallery. The body of the jar is a globe about 18” in diameter and a bit taller in height. It’s topped by a mouth that’s less than an inch high and 8” wide at the rim with slightly inward sloping sides. The globular body is set on a small, 5” by 1” base. The jar’s white surface appears to be perfectly smooth, but there is a hint of faint, shadowy lines circling the body horizontally from mouth to base, as if it had been constructed by the coil method. Lights set directly above the jar highlight the mouth’s rim and the upper third of the globular body, leaving the rest of the mouth, the lower two thirds of the body and the base in shadow. The lit-up areas make the jar resemble a moon floating in cloudy space.]


Hwang Kyu-Baik

Korean, born 1932

Moon in a Tent, 1979

Color mezzotint on paper

Museum Purchase: Caroline Ladd Pratt Fund, 79.20.1

Hwang Kyu-Baik studied printmaking at Atelier 17 in Paris, where he mastered the medium of color mezzotint in which he would work for decades. His mezzotints are achieved through a laborious and time consuming process where multiple colors and tones within each color are layered to achieve a final image. Both serene and surreal, Hwang’s prints evoke a world apart, infused with a sense of magical realism. These prints date to a mature phase of Hwang’s career, when he was living and working in New York City. In 2000, he returned to Korea and resumed his early practice as a painter.

[Artwork Description: This is a photograph of a rectangular box made of cloth set on a closely cropped grass lawn. The box is viewed from the front and slightly above. The top of the rectangle is open, allowing a glimpse into the box. The cloth sides of the box are stretched over a rigid frame which is not visible but implied by the way the fabric stretches tightly from corner to corner and from top to bottom. The cloth is white, with a small pattern embroidered in blue on the top left and right corners of the front of the box. The pattern, a few inches tall and wide, consists of a heavy line running parallel to the top of the box for a few inches and making a 90 degree turn downward for a few inches along the side of the box. Each of these right angle lines is decorated with a series of tiny marks suggesting small leaves, extending outward from the line, plus a cluster of tiny leaves at each end, and a third leaf cluster with a tiny yellow flower extending inward from the point where the line makes its right turn. A circle of light several inches in diameter shines softly through the fabric, so subdued it barely shows up against the white cloth. This “moon” is located at the upper left hand corner of the front of the box, a few inches in from the box’s left edge.]


Hwang Kyu-Baik

Korean, born 1932

Three Houses, 1979

Color mezzotint on paper

Museum Purchase: Caroline Ladd Pratt Fund, 79.20.2

[Artwork Description: This color mezzotint features three small buildings with flat white walls andred tiled roofs, set in a dark gray-green field covered with tall grass. The horizon separating the field from the pale gray, featureless sky runs straight left to right about a third of the way down from the top of the picture. The viewpoint of the scene is from above ground level, but not from directly overhead. The three buildings are set about 2/3 of the way down from the top of the picture and slightly to the left of a vertical center line. Together they occupy a space about 4 ½” wide by 2” high…only a small part of the picture area. Each building is much wider than it is deep. Two of the three structures are also much taller than they are deep. The third, a shed-like structure attached to the long side of the largest building, is much shorter than the other two buildings. The largest house and the attached shed are set so that their wide sides face outward. The third, midsized house, is set slightly to the right of the other two and perpendicular to them, with its narrow side facing forward toward the viewer. Most of the picture is taken up by the dark, olive-green field, its grasses indicated by thin, dark vertical lines that cover the field’s surface. The flat white sides of the houses stand out sharply against the field’s textured darkness, while the red roofs stand out against the white walls, each tile heavily outlined in black, its redness broken into light and dark hues that convey curvature and weight.]

한국 경기도 광주 분원요 백자 병

Korea, Gyeonggi-do province, Gwangju, Bunwon kiln

Bottle with Floral Spray Design, 19th century

Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue painting under a transparent glaze

Museum Purchase from the Robert and Sandra Mattielli Collection; Funds provided by Margory Hoffman Smith and Kathryn G. Rees Endowment Fund, 2018.65.1

[Artwork Description: This long-necked bottle looks like a viscous drop of liquid descending slowly from a tube. It is slightly over 13” tall and over 8 ½” wide. Its neck is a narrow tube, about 1 ½” in diameter with a thin, rolled lip. About 5” below the lip, the neck begins to widen gradually to form the body of the bottle. The walls continue to widen until the bottle reaches a diameter of 8 5/8”. After continuing at this diameter for an inch or so, the walls start to curve inward and downward to the base of the bottle, which is slightly under 4” in diameter. The bottle is a slightly grayish white in color. Two medium blue “floral spray” decorative elements, each about 1 ½” high by 2 ½” wide, are painted slightly above the bottle’s widest part, one on the front of the bottle and one on the back. Each floral spray consists of two “lines” of leaf- and-tendril shapes, one set above the other. Each appears to have been painted rapidly, in a single brush stroke, giving the floral elements a graceful, scribbly look. The jar appears to have been constructed by the coil method. Although the sides were smoothed down, shadowy coil lines are visible, especially in the lower part of the bottle which is less brightly lit than the top half.]

한국 경기도 광주 분원요 백자 병

Korea, Gyeonggi-do province, Gwangju, Bunwon kiln

Bottle, 19th century

Porcelain with transparent glaze

Gift of Brooks and Dorothy Cofield, 2012.122.4

[Artwork Description: This delicate porcelain bottle has a transparent beige glaze with some brown crackly lines showing through. The small lipped opening forms a neck that gradually tapers out into a rounded decanter-like bottle. The large rounded portion then gradually tapers back so that the bottle rests on a smaller base.]

백자 병

Korea, unknown kiln

Bottle with Dish-shaped Mouth, Joseon period (1392–1910), 19th century

Porcelain with transparent glaze

The John Yeon Collection; Gift of Richard Louis Brown, 2017.58.14

White ware or baekja was adopted as the imperial ware in fifteenth-century Korea, following similar developments at the Ming court in China. This made porcelain the elite form of Korean ceramics in the Joseon period. At times minimalist and austere, the aesthetics of white porcelain reflected prevailing tenets of neo-Confucian philosophy, which placed value on

humility, austerity, and purity. Yet these ceramics are frequently elegant, in tones ranging from pure white to the creamier porcelain bodies seen here.

The Bunwon kilns established by the royal court produced various grades of porcelain, intended for the court, government officials, and wealthy private patrons. All three of these vessels display typical shapes of late Joseon period porcelain bottles of the nineteenth century. Two are thought to have been made at the Bunwon kilns, perhaps for well-to-do families outside the ruling elite.

[Artwork Description: This cream-colored, midsized bottle looks a bit like a fat bowling pin. The bottle’s mouth is shaped like a shallow bowl with a pronounced lip. It’s about 3” wide at the rim and 1 ¼deep. Below the mouth, the sides of the bottle narrow abruptly to form a short neck about 1 ¼” wide and deep. Then the bottle widens at a steep angle (about 45 degrees) to form the bottle’s shoulder, which is about 4½” in diameter. The sides of the bowl continue almost straight down for another 6” to form the belly, widening very gradually to a diameter of 5 ¼” just above the bottom of the belly. The bottle then narrows sharply inward to form a short foot about 2 1/2” in diameter and 1/2” high. In color, the bottle is a soft, creamy white accented with a few tiny, dark brown spots on its neck and belly. The surface appears to be perfectly smooth, but it reflects light softly, with shiny reflections only on the rim of the mouth and the outward-sloping shoulders.]


Jungjin Lee

Korean, active United States, born 1961

Ocean Series 99–37, from the series On the Road/Ocean, 1999 (negative); 2001 (print)

Gelatin silver print

The Blue Sky Gallery Collection; Gift of James and Susan Winkler, 2003.87.7

Jungjin Lee turned to photography while studying ceramics at Hongik University in Seoul, later earning an MFA in photography at NYU and settling in New York City. Printed on handmade mulberry paper, the photographs in her Ocean series meditate on the subtle tonal contrasts of water and earth, light and shadow in unpopulated marine landscapes. Lacking a horizon line, the photographs capture both an intimate field of vision, and yet one that seems to go on forever. Here, a buoy line held taut at center is discernible against murky, undulating water. The symmetry of the scene brings an unexpected quality, as if the photograph is an abstraction of the real world. This pictorialist subtlety, relying entirely on the play of light over the water, is enhanced by the textural quality of the handmade paper.

[Artwork Description: This rectangular, closely cropped photograph is printed on handmade mulberry paper with rough, deckled edges. It shows a body of water with subtle gradations of grey mixed with lighter patches suggesting waves that fill the entire space without a horizon line for reference. A buoy line of rope bisects the photograph vertically with the individual rungs of rope in sharp relief towards the bottom of the frame but becoming less distinct and narrower as the line moves toward a vanishing point at the top of the image.]


Kim Seung Yeon

Korean, born 1955

Night Landscape – 9604, 1996

Mezzotint on paper

Gilkey Purchase Prize from the International Print Exhibition, 1997.90


Lee Hang-Sung

Korean, 1919–1997

Untitled, 1958

Woodcut on paper

The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Arts Collection, 82.80.290

[Artwork Description: This rectangular woodcut has a rich terracotta brown background speckled with black. Organic black forms cover most of the surface and could be interpreted in different ways, such as intertwined flowers with long stems that become slightly denser in the lower half of the image. A well-defined border surrounds the image with small breaks in the lines that form the edges. A two-inch space is left blank between the edge of the design and the bottom edge of the paper.]


Lee Hang-Sung

Korean, 1919–1997

Untitled, 1958

Color lithograph on paper

The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Arts Collection, 82.80.291

These prints were created in 1958, the same year that Lee Hang-Sung co-founded the Korean Printmaking Association. Establishing the association marked a significant turning point for interest in modern printmaking in Korea. Originally a painter, Lee continued to serve as the print society’s de facto leader for many years. Lee was highly conscious of working in an international idiom–even moving to Paris in 1975–but his abstract compositions often seem to center an East Asian context, with titles that reference Buddhism and imagery drawn from Chinese characters. Even at an intimate scale, these early prints vibrate with energetic movement and prefigure the strong calligraphic basis of his later work.]

Eunice Kim

Korean-American, active United States, born 1971

Tessellation (16–3) #21, 2011

Collagraph monoprint on paper

Museum Purchase: Asian Art Acquisition Fund, 2018.12.1

The composite works in Seattle-based artist Eunice Kim’s Tessellations series are assembled from small monoprints. Placing tiny dots of modeling paste upon the printing matrix, Kim hand-polishes each dot to her desired height and contour, then individually inks and prints each three-inch square monoprint. Her meticulous, intentional process strikes a balance between organic development of each work and the restraints of a systematic, repetitive structure. Her restricted palette distills the subject of each print to the interplay of light and dark, and the relationship of parts to whole.

Kim’s printmaking is also informed by memory and childhood experiences growing up in Korea. “This ritualistic repetition harkens back to my grandmother’s nightly Buddhist prayer chants I grew up listening to, and touches on larger themes, such as making as meditation and the interplay between individual and collective.”

[Artwork Description: This black and white monoprint is composed of a series of 16 separate 3-inch squares assembled in four rows of four squares each with the white background forming a border around the whole assemblage. In a mosaic-like arrangement, the 16 white squares make up one larger square that forms a central image of a circle. Smoky greyish black shadows emanate from each edge of the circle. Most of the individual squares making up the circle are printed with black shapes that almost resemble jigsaw pieces. On the near bottom right side, a full circle appears in one of the squares, in contrast to the jagged forms in the other squares. The black forms are broken up with tiny white polka dots. While some dots appear flat against the dark background, other dots appear as if embossed with raised edges.]

장진익 텅빈충만2

Jang Jin-ik

Korean, born 1973

Fulfillment of Emptiness II, 2016

Hanji (Korean paper) on copper frame

Gift of Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival) Preservation Committee, 2017.87.1

In spring, the streets of Seoul glow with thousands of beautiful paper lanterns in celebration of the Buddha’s birthday. In a practice dating back centuries in Korea, lanterns have been offered to Buddha as symbols of the light of spiritual awakening and the promise of relief from a dark world filled with ignorance and pain. Taking

light as his medium, Jang Jin-ik’s Buddhist sculpture captures the essence of this community event in the eloquently simple form of a lotus flower.

After studying painting in college, Jang Jin-ik turned his attention to the art of making paper lanterns. His large, sculptural works are created from paper stretched over a hollow copper frame and illuminated from within. This work takes the shape of a lotus, a symbol of purity and enlightenment in Buddhism. Conceptually, the work presents the dual notions of spiritual fulfillment and profound emptiness. The lower part of the flower evokes emptiness—the mind free of distractions and attachments—while the upper blossom, when filled with light, symbolizes the fulfillment of enlightenment.

[Artwork Description: This large, illuminated paper lantern, shining in the darkness at the end of a long narrow gallery, represents a lotus in the process of opening. From a distance, it appears to be a lit-up flower mounted on a black mirror, a flower and its reflection. As we get closer, we realize that the reflected flower is the bottom half of a sculpture of two flowers, one right-side-up made of paper-covered wire, the other, its reflection, upside down, made of bare wires. Together the lit flower and its reflection are more than four feet high and about three feet wide, with the sculpture mounted on a black platform that raises the lantern to eye height. The paper-covered lotus, which is about 26” tall, and close to 3’ in diameter, consists of 4 tiers of upward-rising petals above five small, horizontal petals that serve as a base. Each of the four tiers above the base contains 5 teardrop-shaped petals; the petals get progressively smaller as you go from the outer tier to the innermost petals. The tiers are staggered, so each petal’s tip emerges from between the tops of the petals below it. The first-tier petals are more than a foot long and about two feet wide at their base and two or three inches thick, narrowing to a point at the tip of the petal. They spread outward and upward from the flower’s base, enclosing all the petals in the inner tiers, only the tips of which are visible. All the petals are made of heavy copper wire covered with paper. The wires run from each petal’s base to its tip, with additional, smaller horizontal wires connecting the vertical wires with each other at irregular intervals. The paper is translucent, so when the lantern is illuminated the wire structure of each petal shows up as thin, rose-colored lines, turning the ends of the petals dark pink. Below this paper and wire flower is an upside-down lotus, about as tall as appearing to be a reflection, the main flower but a bit narrower. It has 3 tiers of petals – five in the first (highest) tier, four below that and the bottom four, which hold up the entire sculpture and are almost entirely enclosed within the middle tier. These petals have no paper covering, leaving the wires visible: dark colored, thin and flattened and set close together but not touching. Both flowers are lit from below, by a bulb recessed in the sculpture’s platform. The dark copper wires of the upside-down lotus reflect much less light than the white paper covered petals of the flower above, leaving the “reflected” lotus darker, like a shadow of the brightly lit flower above. Also, because the paper-covered petals of the brightly lit flower curve outward at their base and the light is coming from below, more light is reflected on the lower part of each petal than on its upper portion. The differences in how light strikes each petal adds to the feeling that the paper flower, energized by the light, is swelling as it opens.]