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Huh Sangwook

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Surrounded by the garden-like rice paddies with a tranquil breeze, Huh’s home studio resembles very much the artist himself. Both the artist and his space have blissful softness and warmth. He says “I have been living here for quite a while and I find that the place perfectly fits me. I like that the mountains aren’t so steep and that the space is open and inviting. Being close to main roads also made my life easier.”
Huh’s ceramics are distinctly noble yet practical and modest, just like he is a person of both convenience and practicality.


Huh was enchanted by the ʻBuncheong ceramic’ after visiting an exhibition for ceramics during his study at the Kookmin University College of Fine Arts and Crafts. “I was astonished by the sublime beauty of the ceramics that were once exhibited at the Hoam Art Center. Though my major was pottery I only knew about the white porcelain and celadon, but I was not aware of Buncheong ware.
It was like a whole new world opening before me. All the techniques of carving, painting and mowing that makes up the unique quality of Buncheong were new to me. Then I made up my mind right away to learn the techniques of Buncheong.” He recalls.

ʻBuncheong’ literally means celadon ware with power applied on the surface. Buncheong technique appeared with the advent of the Joseon Dynasty when the era extravagant celadon began to erode around the same time as the fall of the Goryeo Dynasty. The unique style of Buncheong comes from applying white engobe on celadon instead of applying white glaze on top of clay, which is known to be the distinctive technique from the West. Huh further elevates the traditional Buncheong technique by varnishing the surface several times instead of once, creating sui generis texture on the surface. Then as a finish, he applies his artistic drawings onto his ceramics.


In his artistry Huh also incorporates early inlaying technique that was already widespread in the Goryeo Dynasty, the part of the unique style of scratching the surface of the clay. Huh welcomes such a procedure that involves time and devotion. He finds joy in leaving his marks on the surface of his ceramics more than just painting it as it reminds his early childhood memories. Huh’s father being a military man, His whole family had to move from place to place which gave him a ton of time to befriend with soft clays which eventually led him to become a professional ceramic artist today. 


Huh’s drawings on his ceramics are blissfully endearing and subtle. His illustration became the signature and main form of expressing his artistry.Animating drawings of tigers and rabbits, creatures from well known Korean folk tales, which happens to appear more in his recent works, merrily exist in Huh’s ceramic utopia. He explains:“Rather than making something bold, I'm good at making small shapes,perhaps because I have small hands. Even on the spinning wheel, small things come out well, and even if I paint the cotton pad, it doesn't come out thick and intrepid but fine. At first, it was considered a disadvantage, but now I think it is an advantage. It's not something I can throw away anyway, but it keeps piling up and comes out smoothly. My drawing is also a bit gentle.“

"When I was young, I was more interested in the technique itself, how would Is have off the surface and apply patterns on a surface and all. But now I give more importance to the action of making marks on the ceramics. I regard it as a memory trip to my childhood. As I hear the musical mowing sound of clay It ravel back to my reminiscence and brings back the images from my recollection. And I am looking forward to meeting my future memories when I’m in my 60s.”


Heo Sang-Wook, who has been working on Buncheong for nearly 30 years since there were not many Buncheong artists, he is one of Korea’s leading Buncheong ceramic artist today. Having shown his work through steady exhibitions at home and abroad, he reinterprets the old most anew and with the eyes of this era.


“I think the reason why there was less popular in Buncheong than white porcelain is because of the slight disadvantage of the Buncheong porcelain as table ware. The scent or color of the food can be slightly ingrained, so certain parts don't fit modern tableware. But I believe it is an advantage. Just as people change as they get older, Buncheong ceramics become alike and get older together with its owner. The longer you use it, the harder and solid it becomes.


Heo Sang-Wook is a ceramic artist who leaves not just a esthetical marks on the ceramic but also the perennial quality of time and devotion, creating both traditional and trendy ceramics through his Buncheong pottery.



Victoria & Albert Museum 

The National Folk Museum of Poland.

Selected Exhibitions

2015 Cheongju International Craft Biennale

2016 KSD Gallery Planning Invitation Exhibition <STACCATO>

2017 Philadelphia Modern Crafts Exhibition

2018 British Luxury Gallery<Collect>

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