In front of numerous audience, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of Bulgaria and the National Gallery opened on 25 April the exhibition "Moon Jars" by the artist Ik-Joong Kang.

H. E. Mr. Shin Boonam, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Bulgaria and Mrs. Slava Ivanova, Director of the Gallery, welcomed the participants and presented the artist.

The world renowned artist and master of installations Mr. Ik-Joong Kang presents himself in Bulgaria with 13 works, mixed media on wood, each of which depicts moon jars. The moon jars are traditional Korean porcelain pots, whose craftsmanship dates back to the latest period of the Korean Joseon Dynasty (late 17th and 18th century).

The traditional moon jar is simple, plain and pure jar, with the colour of deep white. The name comes from its shape because it reminds us of full moon. The potter had to first make the bottom half separately from the top half then the two semi spheres were connected by hand. Through this exhibition the artist wants to show that the idea of the Moon Jar is about oneness through this connection of two different parts like two Koreas.

Ik-Joong Kang is a Korean artist internationally recognized for creating major public art works exhibited at public places to spotlight the plight of different people and societies around the world. He has exhibited widely in authoritative museums, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, the British Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait and the Ludwig Museum in Germany.

Actually, this is the second time that Bulgarian public will have the opportunity to enjoy the talent of Mr. Kang. He, together with another 8 Korean artists, staged the installation "Floating Times" at the National Gallery for Foreign Art in 2010 on the occasion of 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Bulgaria.

For his installations the artist often uses children’s drawings. In his own words, when he was a child he often heard stories from his elders about their lives in Korea that was one single country – before the Korean War (1950-53) split them apart. These memories inspired him to think about building an actual bridge connecting North and South Korea, covered with children’s drawings from both South and North, symbolizing the unity between two countries. Although this bridge is yet to be built, it leads him to his first installation of children’s art: 100,000 Dreams (1999).

The project featured a one kilometer-long vinyl tunnel, inside which all of the children’s works were displayed. Though North Korean children did not participate as planned, the message of the project became popular worldwide.

In 2001, Mr. Kang completed the project "Amazed World", commissioned by the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in association with UNICEF. Approximately 40,000 works by children from 150 countries of diverse cultures, religions and interests were displayed in a giant maze installation in the lobby of the UN building in New York.

"Floating Dreams" (London 2016) is one of his latest works, situated in the center of the River Thames, by the Millennium Bridge. It features the suffering of displaced people and communities in war torn locations across the world and at the same time acts as a memorial to the million displaced and divided during the Korean War (1950-53), as well as acts a poignant symbol of hope for reunification of South and North Korea.

During his visit to Bulgaria, he will have a chance to invite Bulgarian children to draw their dreams and stories on 3x3 inch paper at the Sofia City Library. Mr. Kang will turn this collection of children’s dream miniatures into a big art peace which will be donated to a public institute such as children’s hospital to share hope and dream with the children and people of Bulgaria.

Picture: Blue Moon Jar, 2012, Mixed media on wood, 176 x 176 cm