FINE CHINA is a solo exhibition presented by Gallery 1313 comprised of interdisciplinary artist, Jeremy Tsang’s recent works that deal with the sociopolitical history surrounding fine china and its iconography, food and culture. The exhibition is one part genealogy of fine china and one part Duchampian Readymades.
Porcelain or “fine china” as it is referred to informally in any Anglo-centric countries, is an invention of the Chinese, with prototypes dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC). Porcelain is term derived from the Old Italian word porcellana. It is created through heating kaolin at a high temperature between 1,200 and 1,400 Celsius. The reason why porcelain became the forefront of ceramic and highly prized is for its considerable strength, translucency (with the introduction of bone ash) and high resistance to thermal shock and chemical attack. With the birth of the Silk Road and Western Imperialism in Asia, the export of porcelain began and the demand grew exponentially. Simultaneously, the term “fine china” was born and the mutual fascination between the continents and the age of Orientalism also began.
With FINE CHINA, Tsang attempts to trace the lineage of this mutual fascination between the west and the east through many commonly known motifs like the Blue Willow (with background story), Indian Tree, Chinoiserie, British-esque and the traditional & contemporary synonymous Chinese blue white pattern. In this body of work, Tsang raises questions of appropriation versus cross-pollination, authenticity in post-cultural revolution and the effect of cultural diaspora. The imprints of the artist are evident in the sculptural interventions which are juxtaposed to the non-existence traces of the fine china makers. In essence, this preamble exhibition seeks to pose a larger regarding culture in the present day. Fine china is a product that is mass-produced, at many times mimics and displays characteristics of fine handmade artistry. Innate to ceramics is also its characteristic to represent culture and heritage; by extension does this point to culture being a mass-produced construct?
Tsang’s hybrid identity of being born in Hong Kong during the occupation of the British Colony, and then immigrating to Canada and raised as a Canadian, informs many aspects of his artistic practice. His exploration as a whole attempts to encapsulate the present day 21st century conditions and experiences. What it means to exist in the era of global villages, where most have a background of cultural diaspora, raised in omnipresence of virtual reality. The playful juxtaposition with the imagined & real, the strange & familiar are common recurring elements in my work. Although the medium in each work differs (video element, object-making, photography, lighting-based, non-traditional art materials, to Fluxus based happening), Tsang’s art employs an anthropological lens to project an honest reflection of modern life and offers a glimpse of a possible future.
Jeremy Tsang is an artist with a varied & cerebral practise based out of Toronto. Tsang has exhibited across galleries in Canada, including St. Mary’s University Art Gallery (Halifax) to Latitude 53 (Edmonton). His commissioned large scale public art has exhibited across Canada from Halifax’s Nocturne, Ft. McMurray’s igNIGHT, to Saskatoon’s Nuit Blanche. Recently profiled in Maclean’s Magazine as a notable NSCAD University alumnus commissioned and exhibited across the country gaining traction with the art crowd and general public. Tsang’s works are in the collection of Sobey Art Foundation and Saint Mary University Art Gallery. In the upcoming months, Tsang’s newly commissioned public works will be revealed and exhibited across Canada in Saskatoon’s Placemaker Program, Windsor’s W.A.V.E.S. Festival, Cape Breton’s Lumiere Festival, and Toronto’s Summer Solstice Festival and BIG on Bloor.