China's contemporary porcelain dazzle in Britain

By Cecily Liu ( ) Updated: 2014-11-21 00:36:12

China's contemporary porcelain dazzle in Britain

'An Ancient Tradition, A New Era' exhibition is held at the Clore Education Centre of the British Museum from Nov 18. Photo by Zhang Kexin /

A pop-up contemporary Chinese porcelain exhibition was held at the Clore Education Centre of The British Museum from November 18-19, showcasing 27 works by 18 artists.

Titled 'An Ancient Tradition, A New Era: Contemporary Porcelain from China', the exhibition was organized by The Art Ware Appraisal Committee of the China Culture Media Group Limited, an associate of the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and The Shanghai Culture Friendship Association.

The subjects of the works are widely varied, depicting thoughts, emotions and resemblances of our modern lives. Their shapes also vary, including vases, animals, sculptures or even familiar objects like handbags and high heels.

One object is the Snow Leopard, by artist Zhou Guozhen, which shows a leopard in white with cracked surface as skin, showing patterns of black cracks. It is hailed as the first contemporary piece of porcelain to apply defective techniques.

Zhou has also created a camel, in a work titled 'The Burden is Heavy, the Road is Long'. The piece captures the determined and spirited nature of the camel, and was made to celebrate the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. The image of camel symbolizes China, as it strikes fearlessly forward on an uncertain and arduous journey of its own.

Some of the porcelain works bear international influences, and an example if Zhao Kun's 'A Gentle Breeze', which shows a colorful house on a white vase, drawn with techniques like the Western watercolor.

Other works have great links with ancient Chinese themes and subject matters. One example is Wang Xuyuan's 'Xing Yun', which depicts a renowned figure of Chinese contemporary Buddhism painted on a porcelain plate.

One example is a porcelain vase titled 'Sun Bin's Art of War', by artist Wang Zhiwen, which consists of an upper section made up of miniature calligraphy, only visible with a magnifying glass, while the lower section depicts an ancient Chinese landscape painting.

Wang, who attended the exhibition, said the object took her three months to complete, and the miniature calligraphy is all written by hand with a brush containing only three furs. "Working on it requires great concentration and feeling," Wang said.

Sun Bin's Art of War is ancient Chinese classic work on military strategy written by Sun Bin, commonly depicted in Chinese traditional works of porcelain, poem and painting.

Lv Pinchang, dean of the sculpture department at Central Academy of Fine Arts, said he hopes the exhibition will showcase to a Western audience the latest works of contemporary Chinese porcelain.

Lv said contemporary Chinese porcelain is unique because they express artists' individual emotions and thoughts, in comparison to traditional Chinese porcelain which focus on the craftsmanship and function of the object.

"Traditionally Chinese porcelain are not art works, they are used as objects or decorations, which is why artist do not leave their names on the art works. But contemporary Chinese porcelain gives artists great freedom to express themselves," said Lv.

Lv said contemporary Chinese porcelain is defined as objects that depict our lives here and now.

Porcelain is a unique medium for Chinese artists to work with, because of the level of attention to detail required and the flexibility of the medium to create an object.

"Also, because the finished work needs to be heated at high temperature for a long time to produce the end result, this art medium has an uncontrollable element, so the finished object is almost like a work of God," said Lv.

Karen Bunting, chair of the UK-based Craft Potters Association, said the works exhibited are very high quality and inspiring.

"It is a great opportunity to be able to see contemporary Chinese porcelain. In the UK we have a lot of porcelain art too, and to share and exchange views with Chinese artists and see their works is fascinating," Bunting said.

Zhang Kexin contributed to this story.

Editor's Picks
Hot words

Most Popular