On the exhibition SIMPLY WHITE-Heinrich Wang's Porcelain Art, porcelain experts are invited to the forum to share their research and views. Director Shu Ling Chiang at Yingge Ceramics Museum has been researching porcelain for more than 10 years and traveling all over the world for her research. The exhibition "Tropical Gardens-Painted Ceramics of Our Era" held in 2020 at Yingge Ceramics Museum was curated by her and her team. On the forum, Director Chiang delivered a speech on the history of ceramics, materials, crafts and the relationship between ceramics and culture, which provided us insights on the development of ceramics from a contemporary perspective.
Summary on the speech:
How Ceramics Changed World Trade and Connected the East and the West
Over the hundreds of years, Ceramics ranging from Jingdezhen to all over the world, and from white porcelain to blue-and-white porcelain, have undergone drastic development. The significance of white porcelain is a result from the reformation and trading competition it triggered. In the 17th century, the western world was fascinated by oriental ceramics. In Dreston, there was even a ceramic factory that spent a fortune to collect porcelain particularly from China. The western world had made great efforts to crack the secrets of ceramic production. Finally, Augustus and his alchemists from Kurfürstentum Sachsen found the secret. At that time, whoever held the secret of the production of white porcelain, which changed the world trade, may stand out in the competition in the European society. After obtaining the secret, western ceramics caught up with the east and expanded all over Europe. Many well-known European brands were established then. The production matured over the 18th and 19th century. The western world departed from imitating the east to developing their own artistic style. The renowned ceramic brand Mason was founded in this context. White porcelain was originally their main focus, but they have developed their own unique style since the 20th century. With a variety of colors and forms, white porcelain has been reinterpreted constantly in both the east and west, and is thus worth exploration from different perspectives.
Heinrich Wang's Interpretation of the Contemporary Ceramic Art
Zingdezhen lost its impact after the secret of ceramics was cracked. The porcelain we see today is the reinterpretation of traditions in a new era. From the White Road to Europe, white porcelain has been popularized all over the world, and can be seen in various forms and styles in different countries now. I once saw Mr. Wang’s work in a Japanese department store and was astounded. Production of porcelain requires a set of skills. It is not simply about fire and clay, but the sophisticated calculation of materials, the kiln and the temperature. Damage is unavoidable during the process. Forming the shape is very difficult, and requires many intricate and accurate molds, which can determine the success and failure in the process. Mr. Wang assembles a piece work with several molds. This is relatively simple to do with pottery clay, but with porcelain clay, it has a high chance of failure.
Besides Mr. Wang's craft skills, Mr. Wang reinterprets the tradition with his originality, representing the spirit of the era, which is the essence of excellent craftsmanship. In my opinion, his works reconstruct the traditional context and are attached ritual value, which is also practical in our everyday life. Like tea and wine, they are not merely drinks, but also the realization of aesthetics. Crafting requires high accuracy, and so does the production of porcelain. Taking all aspects into account, we are able to appreciate Mr. Wang's works as pure art.
Director Shu Ling Chiang at Yingge Ceramics Museum