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Ceramics exhibition highlights interaction between cultures

Updated: Apr 13,2015 7:37 PM

A ceramic art exhibition has kicked off at the National Art Museum of China. Entitled “Interaction and Integration of Civilization,” the show brings together major contemporary artists from the US, France, Japan and China to showcase how the art form has developed across borders.

Taking up three exhibition halls at the National Art Museum, “Interaction and Integration of Civilization” literally crosses borders and time.

These 150,000 Broken Faces scattered on the ground is Jacques Kaufmann’s “In Between Something and Nothing.”

Kaufmann, a French ceramics artist based in Switzerland, is the president of the International Academy of Ceramics. He says his works are inspired by his 2003 visit to the Chinese Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an.

“I was very impressed, not only by the size of the tomb, not only by the quantity of the colossal statues of horses and solders, but a comment of the curator who guided the visit who said 600,000 people have worked on this tomb during forty years ... When the emperor died, the workers have been ... put it into the same tomb,” said professor Jacques Kaufmann, chairman of Intl Academy of Ceramics.

Another piece by Kaufmann conveys his politics and philosophy even more vividly: Under the giant wheel of history, lie crushed and smashed faces ...

The artist says ceramics is all about “memory,” of human energy molded into the clay.

However, for Japanese artist Kiyomizu Rokubey the Eighth, his works on display are mainly inspired by “space”. As the eighth generation of a renowned ceramics family in Japan, Rokubey studied architecture at Waseda University and pushed to take the family trade in a new direction.

“I want to create something that can live in the space the piece takes up. Meanwhile, inside the work itself, it is also a space that is worth showcasing,” said professor Kiyomizu Rokubey Viii, Kyoto University of Arts & Design.

First used to create religious idols, ceramics have since evolved into a material that can be used for everything from artistic masterpieces to daily use products for mass consumption.

That’s why Zhu Legeng believes “the present” should be the most crucial theme for the his art and that of his Chinese peers.

Born and raised in China’s most renowned porcelain town, Jingdezhen, Zhu explores how art functions in real life.

“We should bring out ceramics down from the shelves and let it speak in contemporary life. Ceramics have a glorious history in China and have developed a variety of styles in different times. So if we only set our eyes in the past rather than right at the moment, the art wouldn’t have a future,” he said.

One of Zhu’s works on display is the “China Bull,” a tribute to the pastoral and peaceful life in the old days. The heads of the bulls hang low in modesty, as symbols of the Chinese people.

According to the curator, modern ceramics is still a young art form. Rising in the 50s and 60s, it has been driven in cycles by interactions between eastern and western cultures.

“It’s very interesting how China’s deep tradition of ceramics influenced and inspired Japanese and US citizen modern ceramic art, and then how that art, which uses western modern art forms and integrates oriental philosophy, reflects back in China and cultivates a new change here. That’s why these representative artists from the east and west were selected for this exhibition,” said Fang Lili, curator of Chinese National Academy of Arts.

Admission to the exhibition is free and it runs until April the 19th.