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April 22, 2011

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Innovative china a ringing success

SMALL porcelain Buddhas hang from ceiling strings, forming a dramatic wind chime that creates a hauntingly beautiful sound when a breeze blows, the chimes touch each other and "ping."

The installation titled "Sound of Buddha" is part of an exhibition of innovative porcelain art pieces. The current show is underway at a gallery named "The Chiming of China" that opened several years ago and is dedicated to innovative porcelain art.

"I want to add some fresh air to this ancient art form, something more modern with a different aesthetic," says porcelain artist and show organizer Zhong Ming, who opened the china gallery several years ago in M50 in collaboration with the Art College of Shanghai University.

Zhong is a native of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province, known as the cradle of China's china art. But Jingdezhen and much modern porcelain have long been criticized for mass production and stereotyped images.

Zhong's family makes porcelain in Jingdezhen, but Zhong was bored by all the identical pieces after studying China's ancient heritage of royal porcelain kilns.

"In my view, a quality piece of porcelain is a combination of raw materials, techniques, shape and painting. It is a combination of technique and art, but at this time the element of technique is over-emphasized. This is not the right direction for the future of china."

The exhibition features work that seems to fuse both Eastern and Western sensibilities and techniques.

For example, Liu Zheng's "Night Owl" painted on a rectangular plate of porcelain evokes the impressionist brushstrokes of Matisse. The artist turns porcelain into a canvas filled with primitive energy and power.

The same visual impact is conveyed in works by Gan Daofu. Again, using porcelain as his canvas the young artist paints wave-like and fall-like shapes. According to the artist, the work "hides an Oriental philosophical parable." His work seems to pour out of the frame and provides food for imagination and reflection.

"I hate to see those porcelain pieces without a soul, but only superb technique on the surface," Zhong says. "A creative mind is critical for today's artists, otherwise, they can only be called craftsmen."

Zhong frequently visits art academies around China, in hopes of finding promising students.

"Eclipsed by veterans and masters, many talented young porcelain artists cannot emerge and be introduced to the public," says Zhong.

"Through this exhibition, I hope they can be shown as rising stars."

The creator of the wind chime installation "Sound of Buddha" is 22-year-old student named Liu Yaoyao.

The porcelain chimes themselves are simply shaped like sitting Buddhas and they ring like bells when they come together in a breeze.

"Porcelain art in China today is like a fallow field," says Zhong. "It needs more time and patience to flourish again."

Date: through May 31, 10am-5pm

Address: 1/F, Bldg 6, 50 Moganshan Rd

Tel: 6217-1634


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