A bowl that contains the heart…
As I started making ceramics 30 years ago, I have continuously questioned myself:
“What exactly is a ceramic?”
After 3 years, I had a chance to read through Lao-tsu’s Tao Te Ching.
A single line of the book changed every part of my life: “Although the ceramic bowl is made out of clay, its essence lies in its emptiness.” Yes, I came to a sudden realization that I was making something empty! While I, as a ceramist, make bowls for emptiness, a painting or a sculpture can be thought as a bowl for the heart. If we think further, a church or a temple is a bowl that contains the heart of Jesus or the Buddha, and don’t we even use the bowl as a metaphor for expressing the size of our heart? Therefore, Ja Hyun Choi’s paintings can be explained as a bowl that contains her heart.
Recently, several famous artists started painting nationally treasured china. Although such paintings deal with china that are verified in history and are already preferred by the public, they impose an overwhelming meaning on ceramics and rather excludes their essence: emptiness. In contrary, Ja Hyun Choi’s paintings deal with ceramics that are currently produced and being used. What would be the reason for her challenge of choosing an everyday ceramic bowl that are currently being used, rather than the well-known, nationally treasured masterpieces? An art piece serves as a reflection of the situations of each corresponding era. Even an old proverb states, “By analyzing the ceramics, we can predict what has been going on during that certain era.” Therefore, I believe that by leaving the famous masterpieces behind and by choosing to paint ones that are currently being used, Ja Hyun Choi intended to express the culture of the contemporary.
A ceramic bowl that can contain the living, contemporary heart… I suppose that Ja Hyun Choi’s paintings embody such things.
Fall, 2015. Seong Hoon Byun (A Ceramist)