Invitation to the 10 Year's Work with Clay

Oh ByungNam
Professor of Seoul National University

Embassy of Japan Exhibition Hall Seoul, Korea
25 Nov. - 5 Dec. 1985

This is the exhibition of the works by Mr. Kyung Jo Roe who has worked for ten years as a porcelain artist. For these ten years, he has undergone three changes in his art, step by step, experimenting in the nature and possibility of the clay in porcelain art. The first of them was made with the white porcelain, and the next with the overglaze-ware. Going through such two steps, he has entered, again, into the new experiment and attempted to discover another phase of his art, the marble-ware. It is, indeed, the most important one of his artistic achievements realized with his fine sense of clay as well as his cultivated skill treating it. The present exhibition is intended to show, at a time, what he has done so far.

Before he started his life as a porcelain artist, his concern was to find out, theoretically, the characteristic quality which is embedded in the traditional white porcelain of yi-dynasty. As a way out, he tried to understand it, first, by studying the history of it, However, dissatisfied with the limitation of this way, he made another attempt to experience and approach its nature by doing practice. That is, by deliberately reflecting upon What happened in his mind, and by feeling himself into the original situation in which great potters of the past suffered, he expected to get to its nature. He was eager even to project himself into the secret realm of history and put himself in the minds of those potters. By doing so, he thought he could catch a glimpse of something almost similar to that quality which the traditional white porcelains have. That's a great wonder and an ineffable attraction to him, as well. However, tantalizingly, the core nature of their quality reached him not as a bright light, but only as a faint glimmer. He hoped to catch it, but it disappeared immediately as soon as he tried to formulate it in language. That's why Mr. Roe left the theoretical work behind.

Could there be any better way to capture it in its full sense than to embody it into clay? He realized what he was destined to be, and has begun his life as a potter since then. Ten years ago when he began to play with clay in earnest, the white porcelain was his model to chase after as was hinted in the above. He thought it was an Urtype and that there contained all factors of ware which most potters have aspired to realize. It is why there was the white porcelain period of his art, and during this period he trained himself from the ground up by cultivating his sense of clay and acquiring the important technical knowledges. At the end of this period, there appeared, however, an attempt to overcome or transform the white porcelain he made as his model. That is, he preferred the linear and angular form in his work to the curve or the circle which was used in the traditional white porcelain.

What he intended at the next stage was to obtain a colorful world of overglaze-ware. thus, he indulged in it anew, but did not stay long. He went on to ask how so innocent ground of it can be harmonized with the colorful decorated and, further, whether there could be a more genuine combination. Such a problem led him, finally, to seek for the more primitive sort of combination and open the third stage of the marble-ware in his art.

Also the moment of this he discovered in the native ware which inherited from the past along with the white porcelain and celadon-ware. This marble-ware has an obvious characteristic from the overglaze-ware. It is due to the way the marble-ware is made. Whereas in the case of the overglaze the form of a ware is made in advance and, then, the decoration is added on the ground of it, in the case of the marble-ware both the form and the pattern are not made separately but together at a time from the start when a potter plays with clay. Accordingly, in the making of the marble-ware the form goes hand in hand with the patten,. Form is made as pattern is created, and pattern takes shape as form is created. Put it another way, form is pregnant with pattern, and vice-versa. As the making of the marble-ware proceeds in this way, the sort of its making is rather arbitrary in a certain sense. Because of this arbitrariness, there can not be found the same pattern among the marble-wares. For if every form has its own uniqueness different from each other, in the same way it also creates patterns different from each other. Mr. Roe has sharply noticed this characteristic in the marble-ware and shows us in the exhibition the naive quality composed of both the unintentionally made natural line and the delicate color the clay has originally. Looking around the exhibition, we can easily discover at once that each ware whether it is a white porcelain, overglaze-ware or marble-ware, seems to be considered as one of the most able contemporary porcelain artists. I would like to suggest it is also worthwhile to keep attending to the next stage in his art.