L. A. Gallery - Beijing Exhibition of the Porcelain Art Works of Ma Jun and Huang Min
By Liu Yang
Exhibition opens at July 29th 2006 and is open until Augsut 29th 2006
In English, "CHINA" means both the country and porcelain. In this way, a substance is connected with a transforming country and its culture. Porcelain is so powerful a substance that it connects the history and the present of this great country.
Porcelain is not a widely used media in contemporary art, but its unique character shown in the art works of Ma Jun and Huang Min does make me believe that porcelain improves the variety of art greatly. Porcelain has been a symbol of Chinese art for more than one thousand years. On one hand, artists find porcelain a very important media because it carries the sense of history; on the other hand, it is a burden because of its great history. So in spite of the power of porcelain, porcelain may play a very weak role in modern art because of the limitation of the artists.
Ma Jun and Huang Min transformed the traditional taste of porcelain in their recent works. In their works, porcelain is not only the form, but also the content. Form and function meet in their works. When contemporary artists play with the ideas of Chinese traditional culture, past and present are connected.
In Ma Jun's works, porcelain is used to express the everyday life: porcelain TV set, porcelain recorder, porcelain Cola tin. Porcelain, as a symbol of traditional Chinese esthetics, is here go back to functional equipments. In Ma Jun's works, porcelain is not treated as treasure any more, and it is connected with function. Tradition has become an obstacle of modern development. Consumers need not to care about tradition anymore. Modernization changed China greatly. Consumerism takes the place of the traditional art when the life style changes. Ma Jun described the change in his works "Porcelain Equipments" vividly. In his works, we could find both the artist's memory of classic and his acceptance of consumerism, which are definitely the two aspects of modern urban life. TV set, Cola tin, and cars, are all inevitability of modernization. Instant consumerism has been part of Chinese society, and it takes the place of traditional esthetics. The artist made the equipments in porcelain, and put traditional esthetics with modern consumerism in order to clear up functionalism and consumerism.
The artist does not expose any strong emotion in the art works. This might be because the artist wants to be proactive when working on the art works. The artist may want to visualize the reality objectively. He might want to put tradition and modern side by side and make the two immerse. It is the audience's turn to decide if the artist had made the two parts harmonious in the art works. Ma Jun does not concentrate on the visualization of the modern commodity. He plays with the form so that the audience is led to thoughts from image. The works is a metaphor and the meaning is moved to a higher level.
Different from Ma Jun, Huang Min concentrates on people in her porcelain artwork. Ordinary people, including people in the railway station, peasant workers are often dumbfounded. The weak group of the society indicates the imbalance of China when it goes to modernization. Huang Min visualizes the situation and gains the identification of the public. Porcelain is the media of Huang Min's painting. This is a Chinese style painting. The massiveness of porcelain takes the place of the environment of the people. People are isolated from the environment and this emphasizes the strong feeling of loneliness in our social life. The loneliness may lead to the social responsibility of the audience. Some of her other paintings are of wide dimensionality, a painting form comes to modern painting from traditional scholar painting. The wide dimensionality has great impact on modern art esthetics. In Huang Min's wide dimensionality painting, modern people occupy the whole space, which enhances the Chinese taste. The traditional landscape as the background of the modern people keeps the whole image far away from reality. Huang Min's interest in history leads to the great variety of her painting. She combined the traditional esthetics with objective image, and this suppressed her own emotion. As a result, the image is more objective rather than personal.
Ma Jun and Huang Min express different tastes with the same media. This not only leads to a new trend of esthetics, but also gives the audience a chance to study themselves and the transforming society in which they live.