In the galleries:
Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei famously attacked cultural heirlooms with Dada-inspired impiety, dipping Han and Qing Dynasty pots into vats of industrial paint. It’s not clear whether artist Hyun Kyung Yoon was delighted or distressed by Ai’s antics, but she’s responded with some splattered ceramics of her own, now on display at Cross MacKenzie Gallery. “Why, Ai Wei Wei?” features a dozen newly made off-white jars, seemingly dripping with brightly stained glazes. The result is less provocative than Ai’s work, but more beautiful. Rather than acts of vandalism, Yoon’s color-splashed vessels are an elegant merger of the American pop-art palette and the Asian aesthetic known in Japanese as “wabi-sabi” (rough simplicity).
The show also features Yoon’s “Indeterminate Lines” series of wall-mounted ceramic squiggles. The artist, who divides her time between Richmond and South Korea, compares these 3-D gestures to calligraphy, but they also resemble vines or sprouts. Some of the twisting strands end in pod-like shapes or bristling spines, while others culminate in forms that look a bit like shower heads. Made in a range of subdued colors and a variety of finishes, the ceramic brushstrokes look less drawn than grown. Yoon’s “lines” are as distant from traditional pottery as the vivid hues that embellish her Ai-style jars.