The Representation of Multi-Culture
CHIANG, Shu-ling / Curator
The exhibits from Taiwan cover the masterpieces of ceramists from all generations including senior artists, middle and core generation as well as young creators. The majority of them have many years of experiences in celadon creation. We have also invited the contemporary ceramists to input their new idea to represent celadon works. Therefore, these works can represent the contemporary celadon; despite the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles, they have exceeded the traditions with a variety in styles.
A Long Way from a Hard Beginning to Prosperity
On reviewing the history of Taiwan ceramics production, we see the continuous progress along all the way, starting from a poor environment with many hardships, which can be flashed back to middle Qing dynasty. Nevertheless, a larger manufacturing scale did not appear until the Japanese colonial period. Japanese has founded ceramics factories in Beitou, Miaoli and Nantou areas for producing ceramics for construction and daily life usage. We could not find any “real” celadon work produced during this period. At the same era, when Taiwan was under Japanese ruling, many artists went to Japan for study; some of them are well-known by us, such as Li, Shih-chiao; Liao, Chi-chun; Chen, Cheng-po; Chen, Chi; Chen, Chih-chi; Kuo, Po-chuan and Lin, Yu-shan. Most of them have become the pioneer senior artists in Taiwan art history. After World War II, a batch of artists passed the ocean to Taiwan and also brought the new color to art, including porcelain creation. All these factors have become the components of Taiwan Art History. Under such background, Taiwan ceramics development is inevitably moving on with the same track of history.
Among Taiwan senior ceramists, Lin Pao-chia has shown his interest in celadon very early. Following the same track of other senior artists, he started his real art creation career in Japan. In young age, he went to Japan for studying in medicine. One of his classmates has invited him to go over his home. The father of this classmate used very delicate tea set to make tea for treating all the guests. From that point, he was inspired and then started porcelain creation. From 1936 to 1938, he went to Ishikawa in Hokuriku region and studied in Kyoto National Japan Ceramics Research Institute. Afterward he returned to Taiwan. At the beginning, he founded Meiji Ceramics Production House in Shekou Village of Taichung to manufacture bowls, plates for daily-life use as well as toilet. In the same period, he also went to Miaoli, Dajia and Yilan for collecting pottery clay (Taiwan does not produce porcelain clay). He conducts tests on mineral analysis in order to research about how to utilize local material to improve product quality. All these studies have contributed greatly to promote Taiwan ceramics industry. With these foundations and efforts, Taiwan ceramics industry begins to develop and prosper gradually post war time. In 1970’s, the early-year experience in Japan has inspired him to create one celadon tea set imitating Song dynasty style. In 1989, his personal celadon exhibition was hold in National Museum of History, which has a new expression on celadon language in addition to its shape and color. He utilizes glaze for a painting effect full of poetic beauty. In addition to the outstanding achievements in ceramics art, he is also well-recognized with his long-term contribution to ceramics education. Today most of Taiwan ceramists have been his students; therefore, he has a deep impact on Taiwan ceramics development.
The creation career development of Tsai, Hsiao-Fang reflects the difficult situation of early Taiwan ceramics art development. He graduated from Electrical Engineering Department of National Taipei Institute of Technology. Without any artistic academic background nor relevant training, his early career was all dedicated into production industry. From 1962 to 1964, he entered the first Kiln Engineering Training Course conducted by China Productivity Center and Trade Center. In 1963, he worked as supervisor of technical section in the ceramics tile kiln factory of Crown Kiln Company in Beitou. In 1964, he went to Japan for an advancing study in Ceramics Department of NIRIN (National Industrial Research Institute of Nagoya). From 1964 to 1974, he worked in ceramic tile kiln factory for glaze research and technical instructor for production. Then he gradually starts his own creativity career. In 1974, after long years of research on glaze, he finally has a breakthrough and created his first work “Jewelry Red Glaze Cup”. Then he continues his research and creation in Yingge. From 1975 to 1977, his artistic style and skill have become more and more mature, Tsai, Hsiao-fang has got the special favor from National Palace Museum to allow him to directly watch those porcelain treasures collections. That experience has advanced his creation, afterward he starts to receive numerous orders from everywhere. As to the aspect of celadon creation, the research on China famous kilns of each dynasty has inspired Tsai, Hsiao-fang to create celadon works expressing a beauty of profound harmony in their shape and color. He has perfectly interpreted the unique beauty of celadon, such as its icy purity like jade. The celadon vessels he produced have promoted the life esthetics to the highest level.
In Taiwan early history of celadon production, the contribution of Technical Office in National Palace Museum must be mentioned. In 1975, Technical Office has founded Ceramics Section, with clear target to work on research, maintenance and making copies of those antique porcelain collections in National Palace Museum. In the same year, the ceramist Yang, Winnie has got her Master of Fine Arts in University of Missouri and returned to Taiwan. Working in Technical Office has led her to a 4-years period of research on ceramics. The year prior to her arrival, National Palace Museum has just suffered from a damage in ceramics factory due to mudflows and landslides caused by torrential rain. Three technicians died in this natural disaster and the whole ceramics section could not function. It requires an overall rebuilding-up. Therefore, her primary task is to provide training to new technicians and restore the works on Research Room as soon as possible. The first problem she has to face is figure out how to fill the gap in production experience since the know-how of Tri-Color Glaze and celadon production has not been passed on completely yet. At that time, the academic field was lack of operation experience in kiln burning by gas. And local kilns and factories keep the formulation of glaze and firing procedure as top confidential. With very limited resource on relevant information, she started a very tough process of doing the copying works. In library, she studied those foreign books ordered from overseas to find solution for the adjustment problem of kiln burner (there is difference between the U.S. system and Japanese system). In the 70’s, when Taiwan ceramics development was still in an early stage, the Tri-Color Glaze, celadon, copper red, black gold and Chinese blue and white have been successfully produced. She is very open to share her researches with ceramics field. Many persons heard about her and visited her for learning. In those years, the resources and information of ceramics was still not rich, so her publication “Ceramics Manual” (collected from her articles in Artist Magazine) has contributed lots of valuable new knowledge on ceramics art at that time. (note: The Technical Office of National Palace Museum has discontinued its function since 2001).
Besides, it is also worthy to mention about the pottery classroom hosted by Liu, Liang-yu in Chinese Culture University. In 80’s, he has trained a batch of excellent ceramists. Nowadays, many of them are very active in the ceramic field. Due to his personal interest in Chinese antique ceramics, most of his students have also been involved with this area no matter which kind of creative style they are presenting later on in their own career. Among these students, Su, Bau-tsai has the deepest involvement and dedication on celadon creation. Su, Bau-tsai’s works will be introduced shortly.
From the Practice of Tradition to Diverse Experiments
There have been lots of efforts and contributions from former generations, which bring Taiwan ceramics environment from poor resource to current prosperity. In regard to celadon creation, in the beginning stage, the focus is majorly on the presentation of shade and shape, but nowadays there are more and more varieties on testing and presenting different creative forms and concepts. In this exhibition, we attempt to use an open attitude to present the possible facets of current Taiwan celadon art. The media nature of celadon has drawn ceramists’ attention to the quality of glaze and the firing effect of finished works. However, in contemporary art environment which encourages the diverse presentations, the possibility of celadon is also under reviewing, rethinking and exploration. Therefore, in addition to introducing classical celadon works to visitors, we also invite the artists to