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April 20, 2014

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Art glass freezes a moment in time

GLASSWORK art freezes a moment in time, and one of the masters is Antoine Lepelier, himself the grandson of a French glass master.

“Glass art has given us the ability to stop the flow of time and within a few short moments, has given us inner peace,” said Leperlier at his Shanghai exhibition underway through September 7.

Titled “Stop Time,” it features 15 works by Lepelier and eight works created by glass masters Francois Decorchemont (1880-1971) and Emile Gallé (1846-1904). Leperlier is the grandson of Decorchemont and like him specializes in pate de verre, decorative glass made in a mold in which powd ered glass of various hues is mixed, blended and fused.

Challenging academic limits, Lepelier says the ideal creative state lies in finding a material that can accurately convey one’s personal views. He delves into different techniques, expanding the possibilities of glass art. Reflecting his philosophical bent, his work features symbols pertaining to history, humanity, art and time through relief and inscription.

“A carrier for time and memory, Leperlier’s art captures the flow of time within transparent and sturdy glass blocks. He uses captured moments to express the perpetuity of philosophy,” said Chang Yi, the founder of Liuli China Museum Shanghai.

Born in 1953, Leperlier studied philosophy and sculpture at the Universite Paris I-Pantheon Sorbonne and L’Ecole de Lourvre.

The highlight of his art is his pate de verre (glass paste) work, which began with his grandfather François Décorchemont, an Art Deco master.

Decorchemont explored complex pate de verre and bronze casting techniques. His aptitude for mixing colors and metals was exceptionally precise. He could discern that a flower cast in afternoon light should be 60 percent yellow gold, 30 percent white gold and 10 tin and other metals.

“My grandfather wished for my work to come as naturally as breathing,” the artist said.

From 1968 to 1971, Leperlier was his grandfather’s apprentice, but the master taught him neither precise formulas nor techniques.

“The mystery of pate de verre exists in the unawareness that arises when one is lost in observation and hands-on application,” he said.

Subjects include rotting fruit, a bounding rabbit, a skull and a medieval text about time and life.

“Philosophy is a constant theme throughout my work and confirms that time is also a metaphor for the passing of life and the certainty of death,” Leperlier said. “Life is fleeting, death is inevitable, pleasure is nothingness. Glass is easily broken, weak, a display of death’s irreversible journey. Glass is a souvenir to the existence of time and memory.”

The exhibition also showcases the glass art created by Emile Gallé, considered the first glass artist. For example, Gallé’s long-necked flower vase in the exhibition contains the words fired into glass, “My heart is hidden in the dark,” from a poem by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore. It’s one of Gallé’s signature pieces, which came to be known as “speaking glass.”

Date: Through September 7,
10am-5pm, closed Mondays
Address: 25 Taikang Rd
Admission: 20 yuan


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