Untold Beauty: Korean craft and design

Partner Programme

16 — 24 Sept 2023

Craft, Interiors & Furniture, Art / Collectibles

Cromwell Place

4 Cromwell Place

South Kensington



#lloydchoigallery, untoldbeauty

Untold Beauty draws on a distinctive period in Korean craftsmanship refined during the Joseon dynasty (est 14c). Presenting works by contemporary practitioners, it explores the current return to Joseon’s contemplative aesthetic: featuring ceramics, furniture, textiles, and woodwork including Moon Jar for modern life.

Clean, non-decorative and functional everyday objects were made and used as ethical propaganda in Korea’s last dynasty: the Joseon period that spanned 500 years (14th – 19thC). The Joseon style was established as a reaction to the previous dynasty’s rich and lavish culture, with the new country following the teachings of Confucius and advocating a modest way of living. The royal court used non-decorative white porcelain ware whilst noble men and women preferred smaller, simpler, and fewer objects to display in their homes. The ‘luxury’ that endured however, was the use of fine materials and the meditative craftsmanship that was required to remove impurities from the raw materials to achieve a pristine surface. With the industrial revolution, contemporary Korea had a new mission to grow its economy, and the ethos of Joseon’s elegant period was, in the main, forgotten until now. In recent years, whilst South Korea’s dynamic pop culture has become an international phenomenon, the country has seen a new movement, reviving the Joseon aesthetic in art and design. Designers, makers, and artists are finding inspiration from traditional forms, materials, processes and in traditional values of that dynastic period, holding these at the core of their contemporary practice. Some practitioners are dedicated to adopting the meditative mindset of the traditional Korean craftsmen as they work: emptying thoughts and desires to create pure beauty without the expectation of focused intent. Untold Beauty will explore how this nostalgic style, so bold in its original intentions, can be reinterpreted to speak to our current times, creating a sense of calm through material and form within our hectic digital age.