Lee Gee Jo “Material” Lee Gee Jo Exhibition 2022

An exhibition by leading Korean contemporary white porcelain artist Lee Gee Jo will be held from Saturday, July 2nd at HIN / Arts & Science in Kyoto and from Wednesday, July 13th (Wed.) at OVER THE COUNTER in Tokyo.

For this exhibition, the first in eight years in Japan since the exhibition held at Arts & Science in 2014, Lee Gee Jo has delved deeper into the world of traditional Joseon white porcelain and developed a special series of Taruhanari (vessels), including large one-of-a-kind pieces. These works were produced using a climbing kiln after the artist himself reexamined and delved into the charm of Joseon white porcelain, the characteristics of the clay, and its base material. “In the climbing kiln, fire and clay meet, and the true nature of the clay, the ‘element,’ is revealed,” says Lee. The special vessels are finished with a rich and deep expression, a different aesthetic from his line of ceramics produced with a gas kiln previously introduced at A&S. This collection indeed presents a new form of expression from Lee Gee Jo.

Lee Gee Jo continues to produce his work from his base in Anseong, a city in southern Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, about an hour’s drive from Seoul. Anseong is a rare place where traditional folk kilns exist everywhere, and white porcelain with a high historical value has been excavated. In Anseong, Lee lives a near self-sufficient lifestyle, raising chickens, growing crops, cooking, and serving them on his own vessels. As he says, “Ceramic art has always been a part of my life,” and he believes that the daily use of his vessels breathes life into them and gives them value.

In the two previous exhibitions of Lee Gee Jo’s work held at Arts & Science we have introduced tableware for daily use fired in a gas kiln. This exhibition is the first attempt to present “Taruhanari” tableware. “Taruhanari” is one of the representative shapes of Joseon white porcelain produced in the mid-Joseon period, and is called “taru (moon) hanari (jar)” because it reminds one of a large, round, full moon. From an artistic point of view, this type of porcelain has attracted much attention, and the clay used as the base material is extremely important, not to mention the high level of pottery techniques used. Although he had been interested in this type of pottery for a long time, Lee had been reluctant to produce it because he could not find a suitable clay for his own "Taruhanari,” but now Lee has created this work using a clay he specially developed over a period of about five years.

Another feature of this work is the use of a climbing kiln (also known as a wood-fired kiln) instead of a gas kiln. The climbing kiln, invented in Korea during the Yi Dynasty, is designed to maintain a constant high temperature within by dividing the interior of the kiln into chambers and utilizing the slope and other topographical features. These works are the result of the interaction of two elements: the artificial force of technology and the natural force of clay and fire.

In addition to “Taruhanari,” the exhibition also features other vessels fired in a climbing kiln. We hope you will enjoy the colors of the clay itself and the charms of Lee Gee Jo’s works. We look forward to your visit.

A message from Lee Gee Jo

― The Unique Appeal of the White in White Porcelain ―

White is not the color of emptiness or nothingness, but the color of the root, the ultimate color, which already contains all colors from the beginning. The white in white porcelain is not white. It is the natural color of the clay itself. Therefore, it feels gentle, warm, and comfortable, like a mother's bosom. I call it a plain color. You could say "elementary,” as well, similar to the state of taking thread from a silk moth.
The white color of white porcelain is not simply the color of the glaze on the surface, but is beautiful and profound because it comes from deep within the clay. The white of white porcelain is also attractive not only when seen with the eyes, but also when felt with the hands. A deep sensory experience resides from the tactile sensation of the hands and body, not just the eyes. The white of white porcelain allows us to feel the texture of the clay, which is not originally white, with our sense of touch. We are attracted to the form of white porcelain Taruhanari, but we are fascinated by the texture and the clay first.

― Regarding My White Porcelain ―

My white porcelain work began by delving deeply into Joseon white porcelain. While exploring the roots of the formative beauty and prestige of Joseon white porcelain, I attempt to express this aesthetic through a modern reinterpretation. The first is a study of clay and glaze and related materials. The most important issue is to try to bring out the flavor of white porcelain through the firing process. The second is to consider the issue of the utility and function of white porcelain for modern life. The appropriate size, shape, weight, and thickness of each ceramic form will be considered. The third is the formability of white porcelain, which is based on the aesthetic sense of the restrained, profound, yet simple form of Joseon white porcelain.

©Tommaso Gesuato


    Lee Gee Jo “Material”
    HIN / Arts & Science, Nijodori Kyoto
    July 2nd (Sat.) – July 10th (Sun.) / 11:00 ~ 19:00
    *The shop is closed on Tuesdays
    July 13th (Wed.) – July 24th (Sun.) / 11:00 ~ 19:00
    *The shop is closed on Tuesdays
    Lee Gee Jo is a pioneering modern porcelain artist. Born in 1959, he obtained his master's degree at Seoul National University and now teaches art at Chungnam National University. He lives self-sufficiently by farming and keeping chickens at his home and studio in Anseong. Employing the traditional methods used to produce white porcelain during the Joseon dynasty, Lee Gee Jo designs and creates vessels that are prized for their simplicity and ease of use. His enthusiasm for cooking comes through in the wide variety of vessels in his collection and their suitability for everyday use. Arts & Science has featured his works since 2012.
  • NOTE
    Reservations are not required for this exhibition, but admission may be restricted in case of crowding. We thank you for your understanding.