In the goal-driven modern society we are embedded in, it is difficult to say that perfectionism is not a crucial component of our nature. Contemporary South Korean artist Yee Soo Kyung, however, counters society’s perfectionistic nature as she sheds light on the beauty of imperfection.
“Translated Vase” (2002 — present) is inspired by the beautiful traditional Japanese method of kintsugi whereby broken ceramics are skilfully repaired using lacquer dust, epoxy, or gold powders to create uniquely renewed and exquisite items of pottery. Yee uses this technique to unify fragmented shards into one massive installation. “Translated Vase” not only serves as a tribute to Yee’s homeland, but is also an artistic quotation of American artist Peter Voulkos, who likewise created expressionistic ceramic sculptures.
Most of the porcelain shards in Yee’s oeuvres originate from the discarded works of Lim Hang Taek, a South Korean pottery master whose goal was always perfection. By manipulating Lim’s ceramic fragments, Yee created installations that defy the traditional notion of pottery, or all art in that matter, as a perfect model. She claims not to “believe completely in that kind of perfection” (The Business Times, 2013). Thus, the sculpture is not just aesthetic, but also narrative as we see Yee rejects perfectionism by applying the technique of kintsugi to highlight imperfections instead.
In creating these large scale installations, Yee demonstrates exceptional coordination skills to piece the mismatched shard’s shapes and forms together, whilst assorting them according to color and pattern. Like jigsaw puzzles, the fragments that were once neglected are given life again — this time in an even more beautiful form that evokes an inexplicable sense of pathos. Yee anthropomorphizes each of the shards in her sculptures by stating that “a piece of broken ceramic finds another piece, and they come to rely on one another. The cracks between them symbolize the wound” (Interviewed by The Business Times, 2013).
Analytically speaking, this unprecedented style of sculpture is paradoxical. The static yet fragile nature of the material itself, juxtaposes the seething and ambiguously anthropomorphic sculptural form. In fact, the voluptuousness of each sculpture in “Translated Vase” seems to possess animated movement filled with energy. Placed all together, these massive sculptures emit an elegantly impressive yet threatening presence. Along with their delicate textures, finishes and patterns on the surface, the elements in “Translated Vase” all coalesce to mesmerize the viewer.
It is evident how Yee successfully merges aesthetics, narrative and craftsmanship into her masterpieces using meticulous processes that cleverly utilize the medium’s moment of destruction.
Many thanks to Yee Soo Kyung and the referenced sites for press materials.
”References” Yee Soo Kyung (n.d.), Translated Vase, Available at http://www.yeesookyung.com/translated-vase- [Accessed 04/25/2017] Hostetter, L, (2012), Yee Soo-Kyung: Picking Up the Pieces, Available at http://www.chaos-mag.com/yee-soo-kyung-picking-up-the-pieces/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=yee-soo-kyung-picking-up-the-pieces [Accessed 04/25/2017]
Another Something Blog (2017), Yeesookyung, Available at http://anothersomething.org/2017/02/21/yeesookyung/ [Accessed 04/25/2017]
Yee Soo Kyung (n.d.), Translated Vase, Available at http://www.yeesookyung.com/translated-vase- [Accessed 04/25/2017]
Hostetter, L, (2012), Yee Soo-Kyung: Picking Up the Pieces, Available at http://www.chaos-mag.com/yee-soo-kyung-picking-up-the-pieces/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=yee-soo-kyung-picking-up-the-pieces [Accessed 04/25/2017]