Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lee Kang Hyo

We are finally back home in NC. We did some family visiting after getting back in the country but now we are really home! It feels good!  However, we still have several posts in the works that we did not finish in Korea...
During our last week in Korea we were able to visit one of our favorite Korean potters, Lee Kang Hyo. Mr. Lee has recently had a couple of exhibitions at the Pucker gallery in Boston that printed some great catalogues of his pots, so some of you might be familiar with his work. Mr.Oh and Mr. Lee did a Onggi tour in 2001 of a bunch of universities in the U.S. which I think greatly increased the awareness about Onggi here. Michael visited Mr. Lee's studio in 2002 and was really excited to go back.
When we arrived we approached his studio by walking through his kiln shed. Along one side were several beautiful jars about 3 or 4 feet tall.  Unfortunately, the light was beginning to fade, so the pictures aren't that great. In Korea there are three different Onggi techniques. In Kyonggi-do in the north, they build the pots using coils to form rings that are joined and paddled. In Kyongsan-do in the east, they also use coils but instead of using separate coils for each level they spiral up. In Cholla-do in the southwest, they use slabs. Mr. Lee studied with onggi potters in Kyongsan province so he uses the spiral technique. These jars are not traditional Onggi forms although they use the Onggi technique.
He has two wood kilns- above is a photo of the smaller one.
He has an amazing way with slip. It might be a little bit hard to see from our photos but the Pucker gallery catalogues show it well, especially the most recent one. The jar below had some great pink dots on it. 

He then showed us around his studio. The picture at the top of the post is of his onggi wheel. Below is a wall of sketches and some of his plates. He unfortunately did not have many plates in his showroom so the Pucker gallery catalogues are a good place to see the amazing slip painting that he does on them.

This chicken pot has iron painting on it, which is pretty unusual - he normally does mostly finger wipes.
He served us all tea in his showroom, but we couldn't sit for long when there were so many nice pots to look through.  Below are some of his slab-built forms.
Mr. Lee's pots are very lively. He's basically combined the Korean onggi and punchong traditions to make some really exciting new pots.  Onggi pots are finger-wiped through a brown-ish black glaze, and punchong is the tradition of coating dark clay with a white slip.  He does finger wipes through the white slip, which is kind of a combination of the two.  
In addition to his large jar forms, he makes lots of small functional pots.

Visiting Mr. Lee was definitely a highlight.  He is such a nice man, and it was great to see his pots in person.  


Anonymous said...

I saw some of Mr. Lee's pots at the Pucker Gallery a couple years ago. I went to look at some of Phil Rogers work but was also really struck by the slip work of Mr Lee.

Fletcher Larkin said...

Looks like a great trip. Thanks for sharing your blog. I've admired Mr. Lee's pots in the Pucker Gallery catalogues. I'd like to see them in person one day. I enjoyed looking at your photo's and glad to see you had a good time in Korea.

Docks-Pottery said...

I look at you from italy, great blog.
I have a ceramic studio in torino 2 years alone, I am a self-taught. Looks a little thing I do.

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