Country meets clay in a unique exhibition of ceramics
It’s not easy for a ceramist to launch a solo exhibition, as it can take years to collect quality works from the kiln.
So it’s quite surprising to find “CHINA MEETS CHINA” by local artist Chen Liang, an intimidatingly large display of ceramics.
The exhibition currently running at the Aurora Museum through Dec. 12 features 100 works selected from 11 series of ceramics by Chen over the past two decades.
The English title of the exhibition, “CHINA MEETS CHINA”, has a double meaning – the name of the country and the clay used in ceramic art share the same English word.
Born in Shanghai in 1976 into a family of artists, Chen has studied Chinese ink and ceramic painting since childhood. In 2001, he graduated from the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts of Shanghai University.
Drawing inspiration from his father, Chen Jialing, a pioneering figure in Shanghai’s ceramic art scene, and other veteran artists who often visited his home, Chen approached the art of ceramics, a form of art that has been passed down for thousands of years, with a contemporary twist.
“I tried to merge innovations in materials and techniques, imbuing new vitality with contemporary aesthetic taste,” Chen said.
Unlike other ceramists, he extends his love for ceramics to furniture, tableware and teapots.
Upon entering the exhibition hall, the visitor is greeted by a row of vats adorned with large geometric blocks of varying textures and patterns.
Vats, often with an open top larger than the flat bottom, were one of the most commonly seen vessels in ancient China. They were usually made of pottery, porcelain, enamel or glass.
However, porcelain tubs are the most difficult to make, because the larger they are, the more difficult they are to fire.
It is hard to imagine how Chen produced so many porcelain vats.
“Sometimes when the shape is finished, the colors just aren’t,” Chen said with a smile. “It really takes patience and perseverance, because you would never expect the exact colors to come out of the oven.”
Another impressive work in the exhibition is “October”, featuring the ceramic pomegranates hanging from the ceiling.
In fact, the pomegranate is native to the Balkans and Iran. It is said to have been introduced to China by the envoy Zhang Qian, who led a delegation there during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). Since then, the pomegranate has been recognized as an auspicious symbol in China.
“I wanted to grow a ceramic pomegranate tree that would carry all the best wishes,” Chen said.
Dates: until December 12 (closed on Mondays), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Aurora Museum
Address: 99 Fucheng Road