Lucy Lacoste Gallery is pleased to be showing an experimental exhibition, SunKoo Yuh: Old and New, in which the renown Korean artist breaks away from his past of monumental figurative sculpture to explore four new ways of working. Capturing the artist at his moment of change, this exhibition also reflects the accelerating changes of the society in which we live while demonstrating the creativity that can come out of it.
For many years, Yuh has wanted to evolve naturally from the large scale colorful, figurative ceramic sculpture for which he is known. In this exhibition, Old and New, the artist proceeds to try out four ideas. The first is to show the changes from his old work to his new work by using his existing works to reconstruct new pieces. The second is to change from representational to abstract, avoiding the figurative and narrative aspects of his work, to create abstract forms. Thirdly, in making sculpture in black or white, he lets go of his polychromatic glazes for which he has been known and uses the clay’s original colors of black and white unglazed. The fourth area he explores is the presentation of hand built, painted hollow forms in sculptures he calls Piles which continue his psychologically revealing drawings. These four changes allowed him to compose a new body of work for this exhibition.
This exhibition confirms how Yuh is steeped in art history and social commentary. German expressionist artists, such as Max Beckmann, are a source of inspiration
seen in the artist’s bold and revealing drawings in this exhibition and carry over to his Story Stones, hand-formed, then covered with drawings mostly black.
Yuh combines many references in his new monochromatic sculpture through the maximalist use of press-molded found objects. He alludes to the energy of Korea, found in the culture’s co-mingling of Zen Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity iconography of Jesus and Buddha figures, and juxtaposes it with pop culture references of today such as Chewbacca and Batman. Also found are examples of humor in his use of casts of an Elmer’s glue bottle and corncobs. The white press-mold sculptures are reminiscent of classical Greek and Roman sculptures.
“The small, new black and white porcelains seem to quote Walter Benjamin’s writing on the consequences of diffusion and popularization of art reproductions” – Diana Korzenik
“We are living in a time of change, accelerating chaos. This work captures the spirit of the day. It shows beauty coming out of chaos and conflict. These pieces reflect moments of change when we don’t know where we are going to land. They show us that Chaos is the spirit of pieces jarring yet beautiful, the spirit of creation.” - Rima Bonario
For many years, I have wanted my work to evolve naturally without any forcing of intentions. When I have an exhibition, that desire is always at the back of my mind. I am waiting until the pressure of courage builds up inside of me.
My first idea for this exhibition was “Old and New''. I wanted to show the changes from my old work to my new work by using my existing works to reconstruct new pieces. In changing from representational to abstract, I avoided the figurative and narrative aspects of my work and created more abstract forms. In changing from the specific to the transcendant, I made a hundred hollow forms and decorated them intuitively in a routine manner. In changing from polychrome to monochrome, I let go of my polychromatic glazes and used the clay’s original colors as black and white. These four changes allowed me to compose a new body of work for this exhibition.
I am super excited about the changes that I’ve experienced in preparing for this show. With these ideas, this exhibition is a big step toward escaping from my old work and myself to understanding my new work and myself. A huge thanks from the bottom of my heart to Lucy Lacoste for decades of opportunities, encouragement, and understanding.
Sunkoo Yuh, 2022
Sunkoo Yuh was born in 1960 in South Korea, where he received his BFA from Hong Ik University. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1988 to obtain his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, NY. Yuh currently resides in Athens GA, where he is a professor of art at the University of Georgia. Yuh's ceramic sculptures are composed of tight groupings of various forms including plants, animals, and human figures. While Korean art and Buddhist, Christian, and Confucian beliefs inform some aspects of his imagery, his work is largely driven by implied narratives that often suggest socio-political critiques. Yuh's current focus is on architectural-scale sculptures and pushing his medium to its limits of size. He has exhibited widely and has received many awards and honors. He was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, the Grand Prize at the 2nd World Ceramic Biennale International Competition, Icheon, Korea, The Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize and the Virginia A. Groot Foundation. His work is in the collections of The Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., The Museum of Fine Arts, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, Houston, Houston, TX, Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon, Korea, the International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, NY, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, the Oakland Museum of Art, California and more.