October 25, 2015 – February 7, 2016

Positions in Contemporary Korean Lacquer Art

The special exhibition Positions in Contemporary Korean Lacquer Art showcases select objects by well-known artists that offer a privileged insight into present-day lacquer art on the Korean peninsula. Currently, the country’s lacquer artists are applying a variety of techniques from the treasury of the Korean tradition and interpreting them anew. The objects being presented at the Museum of Lacquer Art testify to the special and independent path that has been pursued by Korean lacquer artists since the turbulent times their country went through in the last century.


In 2012/13 Dr. Patricia Frick was curator for the highly successful exhibition Korean Lacquer Art: Aesthetic Perfection at the Museum of Lacquer Art. Following the positive response to the exhibition and its associated catalogue Dr. Frick felt the desire to give deeper consideration to further aspects of Korean lacquerwork. “Both on my travels in Korea and at international conferences I have had the opportunity to meet Korean lacquer artists,” explains the curator, “and these encounters have inspired me to make a closer study of this particular 21st-century art form and make it the subject of a special exhibition.” After having sponsored the 2012/13 exhibition, the Korea Foundation has not only continued to give Patricia Frick hearty support and encouragement but has also agreed to act as sponsor for her second project in this field.


Dr. Frick points out that Positions in Contemporary Korean Lacquer Art is an exhibition with many facets, highlighting not only diversity and continuity but also innovation, contemporary relevance, and the modern interpretation of traditional craft techniques. Patricia Frick selected the artists in accordance with two criteria: while they had to be using traditional techniques for constructing and finishing their lacquer objects, they also had to have broken away from the traditional forms and motifs of Korean lacquer art in order to pursue independent paths of their own. Prominent amongst the traditional techniques are the so-called “dry lacquer” technique and the inlaying of lacquer with mother-of-pearl, both of which are in evidence in the work of the Korean artists selected. Furthermore, all nine artists have completed university studies in addition to their training in the craft of lacquerwork. In addition, some have spent time studying in other Asian countries apart from Korea – which has frequently proved to be an important source of inspiration for their creative work.


When asked what she personally considers to be special about the exhibition, Patricia Frick answered that it “shows how traditional techniques of Korean lacquerwork are being innovatively applied and reinterpreted for our own time.” However, said the sinologist and expert for East Asian art, one could only fully appreciate this by seeing all the objects in their totality; the exhibition’s special character and message could not be conveyed by spotlighting any one of the chosen pieces. Every one of the nine artists, the curator emphasized, possessed an exceptional oeuvre with a special character of its own.

The artists whose works will be presented at the exhibition in Münster are the following:


CHOE Young Keun


CHUNG Young Hwan

JUNG Yong Ju

KIM Seol

KIM Sung Soo

LEE Hwa Jin

LEE Eun Hee

MOON Young Sic


The works, which cover a time span of three decades, are on loan from the respective artists and from private collectors.


  Impressions of Korean Lacquer Art