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Creating ceramics, listening to Beethoven

JINGDEZHEN, the cradle of China's chinaware, is usually associated with blue-and-white vases painted with birds and flowers, bamboo and mountains.

But Zhu Wen, a middle-aged ceramist from Jingdezhen, presents a stunning collection of vivid colors, including lemon yellow, red and sapphire blue.

The show, his first solo exhibition, is underway through July 18 at the Shanghai Culture and Art Salon.

Zhu, who studied in Germany in the 1980s, is famous for his skill in glazing layers of paint and producing special colors and textures, giving a new visual effect to the ancient Chinese art form.

"My stay in the West totally changed my art view," says Zhu who studied abroad for two years. "I admit technique is important, but not that important. I especially hate to see some Chinese ceramics that only show off superb technique while lacking meaning."

Speaking of his famous colors, he says: "You never know what kind of colors you will get after firing in the kiln, but that's the spell of making ceramics."

The most stunning, and the most expensive, piece is a tall lemon-yellow vase with glittering and translucent glaze over subtle flowers.

"This piece stunned me when I first saw it," Zhu recalls. "Some clients asked for a similar one to make a pair, but it's a pity the 'best' only comes out once."

His works are also remarkable for their snow scenes.

"I'm just enchanted by snow - maybe in this hectic environment I want to hide in a clean, pure and peaceful world conjured up by white snow," he observes.

In one piece, thick falling snow enfolds everything, including small houses, trees and even small dogs. One snow scene features sapphire blue sky and water and a tree bearing brilliant yellow blossoms.

"Some people say they can almost feel the chilly wind and freezing snow," he says. "I'm glad they don't find my works to be 'dead pieces,' but something filled with life and spirit."

During his stay in Germany, Zhu started listening to symphonies while creating ceramics.

Before he went to Germany, he had no interest in symphonies. "But the more I appreciated symphonies, the more I became attached. It's not a simple melody but has great depth and imagination.

"For me, listening to Beethoven and making ceramics is the most wonderful experience in the world."

Date: through July 18, 10am-6pm

Address: B/1 and 2/F, 1102 Hongxu Rd

Tel: 6275-0329


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