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Korean craft and design on show in Paris, London

“Korea Now,” “Constancy and Change” two extensive showcases of Korean artistry and sophistication

By 이우영

Published : Sept. 21, 2015 - 17:29

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Delicate curved lines of moon jars, glistening mother-of-pearl inlay, geometric aesthetics in Korean traditional costume hanbok and alphabet Hangeul -- representative aesthetics of Korean craft and design are on view in Paris and London.

In Paris, “Korea Now,” which kicked off at the Decorative Arts Museum on Friday, presents a wide spectrum of Korean art from traditional craftworks to contemporary fashion until Jan. 3, 2016.

Celebrating the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and France, the exhibition is by far the largest showcase of Korean art ever presented overseas with more than 1,500 pieces of crafts, fashion and graphic design. 

Exhibition view of “Korea Now” at Decorative Arts Museum in Paris. (Korea Craft and Design Foundation) Exhibition view of “Korea Now” at Decorative Arts Museum in Paris. (Korea Craft and Design Foundation)

It is also the second largest official event held as part of the Korea-France Year celebration after Friday’s performance of the Jongmyo Jeryeak -- a Korean royal ritual music performance -- which opened the yearlong festivities in Paris.

The exhibition consists of three sections each dedicated to crafts, fashion and graphic design. The crafts section, directed by Im Mi-seon, former director of the Clayarch Gimhae Museum, features 890 craftworks of artisans. It highlights the balanced beauty of Korean crafts found in shapes and patterns of traditional craftworks such as porcelains and lacquered mother-of-pearl furniture. Such aesthetics pass on to contemporary tableware and decor objects.
Exhibition view of “Korea Now” at Decorative Arts Museum in Paris. (Korea Craft and Design Foundation) Exhibition view of “Korea Now” at Decorative Arts Museum in Paris. (Korea Craft and Design Foundation)

The fashion section presents 270 creations of major fashion designers in Korea. Directed by stylist Seo Young-hee, it is organized based on five major colors in Korean traditional costume -- blue, red, yellow, white and black.

Hanbok designers such as Lee Young-hee and Kim Young-seok present pieces that highlight their sophisticated shapes and conservative use of colors. Contemporary fashion designers such as Steve J & Yoni P and Juun. J show the trendy side of Korean fashion and a modern interpretation of the delicate, geometrical silhouettes of hanbok. 
Modern hanbok by Kim Young-jin (KCDF) Modern hanbok by Kim Young-jin (KCDF)

Viewers may trace the origins of the geometrical feature of hanbok in the Hangeul Korean alphabet in the graphic design section. Posters and book covers on display highlight geometrical and symmetrical features of Hangeul. 

In London, the Korean craft exhibition “Constancy and Change” -- first shown at Milan Design Week in April -- will arrive to the London Design Festival on Sept. 24. The showcase of 192 craftworks by Korean artisans will run until Sept. 27 at Tent London.

Themed “Simple, Calm and Subtle,” it will present highlights of Korean craftworks such as porcelain works, paper craftworks, lacquered ware inlaid with mother-of-pearl and brassware that highlight Korean sophistication, artistry and craftsmanship passed on through generations of artisans.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)