Saturday, November 18, 2023

Miniature Treasures of the Qing Dynasty & Beyond - Snuff Bottles at the SD Chinese Historical Museum

 by Patricia Frischer

Tourmaline Snuff bottle, like that mined in North County San Diego for the Chinese Empress. 

Clare Chu, curator for the current special exhibition at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum,  Miniature Treasures of the Qing Dynasty & Beyond, gave a zoom presentation on Chinese snuff bottles and their place in history. 

With the discovery of tobacco, and it use by the elite, snuff bottle in China initially became status symbols. These bottles were made of a variety of materials including glass, metal and enamel, porcelain, and various stones – like jadite, amber, tourmaline, nephrite, crystal, agate. Materials are both opaque and translucent and use a variety of techniques to apply decorative carved and painted surfaces.

There was a short discussion about collecting bottles, cleaning then, matching often lost caps and fakes and forgeries. Ms. Chu is a snuff bottle dealer and was joined by Courtenay McGowen , a collector of the same.

Although the bottles were presented in chronological order, I am presented them here in a sort of visual order. Diving deep into any subject is always fascinating and worthwhile.  You can move from here to European snuff boxes which are often highly jeweled and reflect that western sensibility.

The exhibition is at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension.  It will run through February 25, 2024. 


Monday, November 6, 2023

Korea in Color: A Legacy of Auspicious Images at the San Diego Museum of Art

 by Patricia Frischer

Park Hyomin, 2014-16 (detail)

Korea in Color: A Legacy of Auspicious Images, the exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art showing until March 3, 2024 demonstrates the influence of the very colorful Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) works of art on contemporary Korean painting.  Black ink paintings dominated in the period in between then and now, but that seemingly has all changed. What has not changed is how traditional themes and the symbols that represent those themes are still highly important to current artists.

Those themes include protection offered by animals, abundance and longevity in the garden, scholarly objects and books and the appreciation of majestic mountains. These are the four divisions that help us place contemporary art in the context of Korean culture.   I have included the dates of the works since so many of them look ancient, but are made in the 21st Century.  

Theme 1: Byeoksa, protection against evil spirits

Park Hyomin, 2014-16

Seongpa, 2012

Oh Yoon, 1985

                                                           Oh Yoon, 1985

Stone Johnson, 2021

Stone Johnson, 2021

Oh Soonkyung, 2020-21

Oh Soonkyung, 2020-21

Oh Soonkyung, 2020-21

Oh Soonkyung, 2020-21

Oh Soonkyung, 2020-21

Oh Soonkyung, 2020-21

Theme 2: Gilsang, good fortune

Yoon Jungwon, 2022

Kim Chonghak 2006

Kim Chonghak, 2006 (detail)

Kim Yongchul, 2007-23 

Kim Yongchul, 2007-23 (detail)

Naomi, 2014

Naomi, 2014 (detail)

Theme 3: Gyohun, edification

Artist Unknown, 19th Century

Hong Kyoungtack, 2017-22

Kim Hyegyung, 2021

Kim Hyegyung, 2021

Theme 4: Gamsang, appreciation

Lee Youngsil, 2022

Lee Heungduk, 2010

Song Kyutae, 2014

Song Kyutae, 2014 (detail)

Lee Sookja,2000, 2014-15

Ahn Sangsoo, 2018

Ahn, Seongmin, 2023

The most surprising thing about this exhibition was how if informed my view of contemporary Korean Art. I really never thought about Korea as a creative community.  

Korea in Color: A Legacy of Auspicious Images, 
showing until March 3, 2024
The San Diego Museum of Art
1450 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Monday-Tue, Thurs – Sat: 10: - 5:00
Wednesday: Closed
Sunday: 12: - 5:00