October 2 - November 27, 2020
Within the night sky, the moon is a large vessel of light, gently shining upon the unseen, illuminating that which the sun is unable to. So delicate is its luminosity, that even the smallest amount of exposure from other light sources could wash it away.
Capturing the subtle and nuanced nature of the moon’s luminosity is Moonlight, a selection of works by Arijian and Kang Minsoo. Presented in conjunction with Choi Young Wook’s paintings in Karma, this exhibition is composed of four mother-of-pearl pieces of furniture and one moon jar. Together, these works highlight the organic and luminescent philosophy of traditional Korean crafts.
In Korea, mother-of-pearl has often been used as an inlay for traditional furniture (자개장; jagaejang). Sourced from the inner layer of seashells, the natural material has an iridescent appearance similar to that of moonlight. Arijian is an art-and-design studio based in Korea that specializes in restoring and redesigning vintage mother-of-pearl furniture. Arijian’s artist, artisan, and designer collaborate to simultaneously revive the traditional features of the furniture and imbue it with contemporary elegance. Century-old furniture is thus redesigned with new, abstract motifs. Heritage Black and Noble Blossoms are striking examples, as is Octagon B, complete with its geometric contemporaneity. Within each piece of furniture, materials and approaches from different eras dwell together, and it is this weaving of time that drives Arijian conceptually.
The moon jar (달항아리; dalhangari) is a round ceramic vessel with roots in 15th century Korea. To make a moon jar, the ceramicist creates two separate porcelain bowls, joins them together, then coats the piece with white glaze. As a result, the moon jar’s symmetry is slightly distorted, bulging in the middle. Though its surface is often simple, one can sometimes find interesting variations in color and texture. Many historians and artists have praised moon jars for their subtle imperfection and abundantly rich simplicity.
Kang Minsoo is a master ceramicist in Korea who has devoted his life to the art of the moon jar. Kang is widely known for his masterful wood firing, a technique that has been traditionally used for moon jars since centuries ago. Kang only uses oak wood sourced near the sea, as its embedded salt accentuates the alchemy that occurs within the kiln. In his process, Kang exercises a balance between chance and technique. As he honors and continues a centuries-old legacy, the artist seeks to invite new meaning and relevance to the moon jar.
Helen J Gallery is a contemporary art gallery based in Los Angeles. Specializing in Asian art and design, the gallery features vibrant programming and exhibitions geared towards embracing Asian culture and the diaspora. Our program aims to promote artists from various geographic locations and diverse backgrounds, foster cross-continental dialogue, and broaden the understanding of Asian culture in the Los Angeles area and beyond.
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