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Lacquerware exhibition dazzles Paris

A 'ham,' traditional Korean wooden chest, by Choi Da-young (KCDF)
A 'ham,' traditional Korean wooden chest, by Choi Da-young (KCDF)

An exhibition at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris will shed light on traditional Korean mother-of-pearl arts and lacquerware.

“Najeon, the Korean Mother of Pearl Artworks -- Meeting with the Timeless Shine,” which opened Monday, focuses on artistry and the history of Korean lacquer craftsmanship.

Commonly called “najeonchilgi,” the handicrafts are a type of traditional Korean lacquerware or woodwork inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Lacquerware pieces are on display at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, ahead of the opening of “Najeon, the Korean Mother of Pearl Artworks.” (KCDF)
Lacquerware pieces are on display at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, ahead of the opening of “Najeon, the Korean Mother of Pearl Artworks.” (KCDF)

A total of 63 pieces are on display, including works of Jeon Sung-gyu, who is known as the last lacquer master artisan of the Joseon era (1392-1910), according to the Korea Craft and Design Foundation.

The exhibition showcases artworks from seven master craftsmen -- two of whom are still living -- who were designated as Living National Treasures by the government.

Lee Hyung-mahn and Chung Su-hwa who became Holders of Important Intangible Cultural Properties in 1966 and 2001, respectively, work to preserve traditional heritage in Wonju, Gangwon Province, and Pocheon, Gyeonggi province.

Actual lacquering tools such as graver, paddle, and paint brushes used by the late Shim Bu-gil, who was Chung's teacher, are displayed to engage the viewers with the creative process.

A compilation of photos shows, from top left,
A compilation of photos shows, from top left, "Draw a Circle" by Kim Hyun-ju, "201925" by Jeong Zik-seong, "The Blissful Waves 01 and 02" by Yoo Ji-an and "Negative and Positive -- Green" by Kim Sung-soo. (KCDF)

Also featured are 14 lacquerware pieces by five contemporary artists -- Kim Sung-soo, Jeong Zik-seong, Yoo Ji-an, Kim Hyun-ju and Choi Da-young -- that explore the artistic expansion of najeon by incorporating a modern aesthetic with traditional craft techniques.

The exhibition at Segur Hall, Paris, runs until Sept. 14. The Korean Cultural Center in Paris will host a follow-up exhibition from Sept. 29 to Nov. 19.



By Hwang Dong-Hee (hwangdh@heraldcorp.com)
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