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'Chime of China' shows creative porcelain
By Wang Jie

TODAY there is a lot of porcelain with superb but superficial technique, and no soul.

"Ancient Chinese royal power once pushed porcelain art to its incomparable pinnacle that has not been surpassed," says Hong Ming, organizer of a new, 600-piece exhibition by famous names and emerging talents in porcelain art. "Frankly speaking, porcelain art in China today is like a fallow field, it needs more time and patience to flourish again."

The ongoing exhibition titled "Chime of China" at the Shanghai Library aims to provide a platform for young porcelain artists and inspire the public with the possibilities of porcelain. The show contains vessels, sculpture and painting on porcelain "canvases."

Large-scale porcelain exhibitions are rare, especially those including big names such as Wang Xiliang, Liu Zheng and Gan Daofu.

"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," Zhong says.

Zhong's family makes porcelain in Jingdezhen, the "cradle" of China's porcelain ware, but after studying the heritage of China's imperial kilns, Zhong was bored by all the similar contemporary works that are being turned out today.

The current 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 evokes the impressionist brush strokes 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 water fall-like shapes. The work seems to pour out of the frame and provoke reflection. Gan says the work "conceals an Oriental philosophical parable."

"A creative mind is critical for today's artists, otherwise, they can only be called craftsmen," Zhong says. "Eclipsed by veterans and masters, many talented young porcelain artists are unable to emerge and be introduced to the public. Through this exhibition, I hope they can be shown as rising stars."

The highlight of the exhibition is the contemporary celadon, pottery with a pale green glaze, made at the legendary Longquan Kiln in east China's Zhejiang Province. The local clay, glaze and water create special effects. More than 80 steps are required to create each piece, including 13 steps that have been followed for more than 1,700 years. Longquan celadon reached its peak during the Song (AD 960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties.

Young celadon artists today, such as Chen Aiming, follow ancient techniques while giving their work a modern feel and creating modern shapes.

Date: Through January 20, 9am-4pm

Address: 2/F, Exhibition Hall of Shanghai Library, 1555 Huaihai Rd M.

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