Contemporary Korean art at the Saatchi Gallery: YeeSookyung

Published in Trebuchet Magazine, 2012. Copyright Nicola Anthony.

Translated Vase

This month there are many things inspiring me, but one that really catches the eye is the arrival of contemporary Korean art from 33 artists including Debbie Han, Seon Ghi Bahk, Ji Yen Lee and Myung Gyun You at the Saatchi Gallery to coincide with the Olympic Games.

The exhibition presents the largest survey of new Korean art to date, and highlights an exciting group of artists who have recently emerged on the global art scene, producing work that provides an arresting insight into the future of contemporary art in Korea.

The show begins on 26th July, but if you pop into the gallery now you can see a taste of Korea coming through. Intricate oil paintings on aluminium surfaces by Hyung Koo Kang really draw you in, and beautiful ‘translated vases’ by Yeesookyung are growing in the lower gallery spaces. Made from ‘ceramic trash’, Yeesookyung’s uncanny and bumpy objects have organic, bubbling forms featuring fragments of Korean patterned vases joined in a frankenstein-like manner to make new, growing forms. A network of fine gold veins stretches across the surfaces where the epoxy and gold leaf joins each vase piece to the whole.

Yeesookyung  says “I took ceramic trash from a ceramic master who reproduces old Korean ceramics such as Joseon Baekja or Celadon.  After baking in a kiln by using the old method, ceramic masters break almost 70 percent of the porcelains that don’t reach up to their standards of masterpieces. I put the broken bits and pieces of ceramic trash together one by one as if I’m putting together a jigsaw puzzle. And I cover the seams with 24 karat gold leaf. Each broken piece operates as a self forming into an infinite proliferation toward as unexpected fabrication–fictitious loquacity and stuttering discards from standard conventional masterpieces.”

YeesookyungTranslated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24k gold leaf (images courtesy of Saatchi Online):

Yee Soukyung (image courtesy of Saatchi Online)
Yee Soukyung (image courtesy of Saatchi Online)

Yee Soukyung (image courtesy of Saatchi Online)

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2010, Ceramic trash, epoxy, 24k gold leaf, (image courtesy of Saatchi Online)

Translated Vase

Translated Vase (detail)

Translated Vase (detail)

Translated Vase (detail)

Translated Vase

Korean Eye 2012 will be the very first time this group of artists have shown their work together, demonstrating a very diverse range of influences including fluency with technology, incredible attention to design and detail, and more historic factors, such as western classical art and Korea’s many years of occupation by foreign powers.

Hyung Koo Kang, Theresa, 2011, Oil on aluminium, 240x240cm

It will also be the first time the Saatchi Gallery has helped curate an exhibition of this scale from work outside its own collection, selecting the final 33 artists from Korean Eye’s long list of 2000 artists who entered over 28,000 works for consideration. Korean Eye 2012 features work by:

AHN, Chulhyun
AHN, Doojin
BAE, Joonsung
BAHK, Seon Ghi
CHAE, Mi Hyun
CHO, Duck Hyun
CHOE, Uram
CHOI, Chongwoon
HAN, Debbie
HONG,Euyoung HONG, Seung Hee
HONG, Soo Yeon
HONG, Sung Chul
JE, Baak
JUNG, Seung
KANG, Hyung Koo
KIM, Byoungho
KIM, Dong Yoon
KIM, Hyuen Jun
LEE, Gilwoo
LEE, Jaehyo
LEE, Ji Yen
LEE, Jonggeon
LEE, Kwang Ho
LEE, Moonjoo
MOON, Beom
OH, Jeong Il
SHIN, Meekyoung
SIM, Seung-Wook
YOU, Myung Gyun


Nicola Anthony is an artist and art writer living & working in London. She seeks to discover things which make her mind crackle with creative thought. Catch@Nicola_Anthony on twitter, or her artist’s website


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