Born in Nantong, China, in 1963, contemporary artist Xiangdong Chen is most widely recognized as the first artist to successfully infuse porcelain with painting. He has created visually remarkable works that demonstrate his unparalleled proficiency of painting, glazing, kiln firing, and porcelain, and his distinctive rendering of the symbols of Oriental culture with New York’s creative scene.
Some of his most recent work as well, as historic pieces that made him famous, will be part of his new solo show ‘The Infusion of Ink and Clay’ at Stride Arts. The exhibition will begin on Wednesday, June 19th through August 16th, 2019. Close to 100 of his works will be available for the public, encompassing both porcelain and ink paintings that allow the viewer to absorb the history of the material and modernity of design.
Chen attended Nantong University – School of Fine Arts, where he graduated in 1987. He then moved on to continue his studies at the Print Program of Nanjing Academy, where he graduated in 1991. From 1989 until today, he has continued to refine his background in fine arts.
Mr. Chen, who has been residing in New York for 22 years now, talked to us a little bit about his work:
How did you learn to make porcelain?
Xiangdong Chen: I met a porcelain studio owner in China, who said that at the time it was very difficult to find a great porcelain artist. He asked me if I knew someone who could put his art into clay and also make new pieces. I thought that was a great idea because back then artists usually can’t draw or can’t design porcelain, but I could draw, paint and design. Also, I always wanted to develop the tradition of Chinese Ink Art. Usually, artists only use traditional black and white in ink painting. Western watercolor artists use all kinds of color, and what I wanted to do was combine the colorful Western style with the traditional Chinese ink style. By trying to make porcelains, I was able to combine red, green and other colors into my ink painting on the clay. I broke Chinese tradition on porcelain shape and style. It is a modern, contemporary art. By making porcelain, I’m able to keep the traditional art ink technique but expressing my own personality, passion, and inspiration at the same time.
Tell us about the ink drawing of the mountains?
XC: This ink mountain is not a particular a place or a mountain, it is a mountain in my heart. The mountain has a special meaning to me. It represents muscular and feminine, power and beauty. The dots represent Yin and Yan’s combination. I had to be in a very peaceful, deep state, to make the ink mountain look like that. When I start, I can’t stop, I don’t eat or drink. I just have to finish it. The whole painting is about life.
As a Chinese artist working in America, how does the New York audience react to your work?
XC: American audience’s love my work. They are very curious about Chinese Ink Painting. The Mountain and Lotus series got a very strong positive reaction from New Yorkers. They were curious about what kind of mind and state I was in to make such pieces. Through my work, they can feel what I was trying to express.
We hope you enjoyed our interview with Chinese contemporary artist Xiangdong Chen! Make sure to stop by Stride Arts between June 19thand August 16thto see his exhibition!
Location: 1110 2ndAvenue. Suite 200, NY, NY, 10022 (at 58thSt. and 2ndAve.)
Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 6 PM.
Text by: Daniela Gentile