“To appreciate a moon jar properly you should look beyond its simple shape. Although it is a plain porcelain jar, with no decorative elements whatsoever, it will seem different every time you look at it. Depending on the circumstances it will look quite different when you feel good or when you feel gloomy, when the weather is sunny or rainy and cloudy.”
Dae-sup Kwon recalls the chance encounter in 1978 that determined the course of his artistic life, “I was studying painting when I came across a white porcelain moon jar from the Joseon Dynasty at an antique shop in Seoul. I was enthralled by its graceful beauty, it was love at first sight, that jar, so simple at first glance. It left me with so many different impressions, I decided right there and then to become a potter instead of a painter.”
Kwon has produced moon jars ever since, devoting all of his artistic energies to this single type of pottery. The complexities of creating moon jars, the long firing time and high kiln heat and meeting Kwon’s exacting standards, all conspire to make his moon jars exceptionally difficult to produce. Typically, he is left with no more than 4 to 6 works a year.
Originally made during the 17-18th century, the shape of the moon jar evokes the full moon and the circle of life. Almost spherical, the diameter at the widest part of the vessel is nearly the same as its height and can exceed 40cm.
The surface of the jar has no patterns or decorations but a gentle milky-white sheen reminiscent of a full moon in the night sky. The use of the moon jar is unclear. Some think it was intended as a vessel for storing ingredients while others believe that it was used during royal ceremonies. Either way, the moon jar is a unique product of Korea’s rich ceramic culture with a long, illustrious history and Kwon is considered its latter-day master.
In the words of the artist, "I try to produce work that needs no addition or subtraction. I wish to create work that has an imposing presence but harmonises with its surroundings regardless of where and when it is displayed. It should give peace of mind and a sense of comfort to all who look at it.”
Kwon received his BFA from the Hongik University in Korea. His work is avidly collected and has been widely exhibited.