Sun, Jul 06, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Tracing history from pots

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

Figures on Ceramic Tiles, by Lin Yao-tang.

PHOTO COURTESY OF YINGGE CERAMICS MUSEUM

The Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum (臺北縣立鶯歌陶瓷博物館) has dedicated itself to the promotion of Taiwanese pottery, and its latest exhibition, a historical look at the development of creative ceramics since retrocession, titled Taiwan's Colored Ceramics (台灣彩繪陶瓷展), will help affirm its position as one of the most important venues for the art form in Asia.

The exhibition, which is arranged chronologically, from the simple, even rustic, floral designs that emerged from the Peitou Kiln in the wake of the Japanese departure from the island, through the development of a highly sophisticated firing and glazing industry that pushed the technical limits of pottery. And, finally, the development of ceramic technology in conjunction with a number of well-known painters, which has produced some truly innovative works.

The exhibition tells the story of early innovators, who used relatively simple materials to make pottery a medium for artistic expression. While many of these artisans sought to break into the lucrative antique imitation market, others looked to other contemporary movements in art, such as expressionism and abstraction. The tension between technical and creative development -- one of the ongoing issues in pottery -- is brilliantly brought out by this show.

The height of technical

excellence can be seen in the work of the Tai Hua Pottery Company (台華陶瓷), which in addition to a large commercial output, also creates highly ornate artistic works, that while not to everybody's taste, show a degree of craftsmanship that demands admiration. Their achievements are particularly astonishing in respect of the glazing that imitates the effect of oil and water color painting.

A divergent approach is taken by the Ci Yang Kiln (瓷揚窯), which offers intimate cooperation with painters for the creation of new types of ceramic works. These are the highlight of the show, as is the special section devoted to the work of artist Cheng Shan-hsi (鄭善禧), who has contributed more than 20 works.

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