Lee ka Jin

Please tell us about the artwork on the cover.
This is the <Water Drop> series that I started creating in 2010 when I was still in college. As you can see, it is not very unique in shape or innovative in idea, but you will see a visual difference in color and texture after I increased the amount of lacquer to the maximum quantity. Porcelain has been lacquered for functional purposes such as storing food, but I added the visual effect of full lacquer by adding a layer of lacquer that is thicker than what is generally needed.


It means that you added a unique aesthetic character to the lacquer other than its function. The opening is also small, unlike other porcelain, right?
As small as you can barely put a flower in it. It is an object, not a vessel, and I wanted to maximize the exposure of the exterior area, unlike the containers that maximized the interior area so that it could store as much food as possible. The aesthetics of lacquer has been maximized by coating the exposed surface with a thick layer of lacquer.


Why did you add a thick layer of lacquer?
Goryeo Celadon is basically the unique colors of iron on the clay and the iron in the lacquer that is overlapped and reflected on the surface. Thus, layering creates a blue shade that is associated with the world-famous Goryeo Celadon. However, I added a thick layer of lacquer so the color of the clay would not penetrate the surface. The lacquer itself is layered as deep water. My celadon is special because the process technically stabilizes the colors.


I wonder why each piece has a slightly different color when they are all from the <Water Drop> series.
It is the difference between shallow water and deep water. Basically, I changed the composition of the lacquer to alter the appearance of the color, and the color and texture also vary according to the thickness of the lacquer, baking temperature, and method (amount of oxygen) even when the same amount of lacquer is used.


Simplicity would be the beauty of your series, not the glamour of celadon. Is there a reason you are reluctant to use the unique inlay technique for the celadon?
I prefer shapes, but it is not just because of my taste. The glamorous decoration for the celadon with inlay is suitable for the celadon because it reveals the color of clay. My <Water Drop> series creates the surface and the decoration with the colors and the depth of thick layers of lacquer, so I thought it would not need any other tools. I wanted to emphasize the lacquer itself. I wanted to create the feel of a drop of lacquer on the ground.


That explains why you gave it such title. Most porcelain artists say that porcelain art is labor-intensive, don’t they?
It is not just physically exhausting, but it is also mentally agonizing. When they try kiln work for the first time, they realize it will not come out as intended. The vessels can shrink, collapse, or come out with a color that you did not anticipate. I have experienced all of these, but the challenge was appealing to me. I still have many training programs left, and I am discovering the general properties of porcelain. I particularly love the honest process of getting used to it during training, studying, and learning the properties of the materials I use from time to time.


I wonder what types of artworks you are creating besides the <Water Drop> series.
I have the simple <Still-life> series with tea cups and dishes that have no lacquer at all. I didn’t apply lacquer, but I used refined clay and polished the surface for firing in high heat so it would look smooth on the surface. When the surface is slightly baked to form a coat, it becomes a usable vessel. I used excess lacquer


You are a young artist with many different paths ahead of you. Isn’t the attention overwhelming?
I am getting the attention probably because I work with ‘celadon.’ In that respect, I am overwhelmed for having chosen a medium that is too specific and labor-intensive. It is so enormous, and I am overwhelmed by its history and importance. I feel a sense of responsibility for creating it. There would be limitations that are difficult to overcome, and I would need to endure lengthy periods of training, but I also feel that I should embrace the attention that I am getting today.


Please tell us something about your future plans.
For now, I am planning to participate in ‘Revelations,’ the craft art biennale held in Paris, France, in May. In the future, I would like to change the character of my work. While working on ‘porcelain murals’ recently, I thought all of my artworks were too contemporary. I am considering adding variations and expansion of form; they could be murals or sculptures.