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Rethinking Ceramics: Yi Yang Yi Sheng and Zhenhan Hao


Rethinking Ceramics: Yi Yang Yi Sheng and Zhenhan Hao
Works by Zhenhan Hao. Image courtesy of The Artling

Jingdezhen is undoubtedly the most important city for Chinese porcelain and has risen to prominence over thousands of years through their creation of high-quality china. To this day, studios and workshops maintain significant cultural and historical value to the city. Ceramicists actively working in Jingdezhen not only showcase the evolution of ceramics but continue to hold tradition close to their practice. 

The Artling visited the studios of Yi Yang Yi Sheng and Zhenhan Hao, both distinctive and incredibly talented ceramic artists in their own right. 

Yi Yang Yi Sheng has ventured beyond traditional ceramic making to create elegant furniture pieces made of ceramic and steel. Contemporary and sleek, his furniture pieces are versatile and allow us to see the medium under a new light by merging together traditional ceramic structures with modern forms and materials. Zhenhan Hao, on the other hand, explores the context of ceramics past their physical form by challenging the notion of authenticity. 

Take a look at our trip to their studios in Jingdezhen: 

Yi Yang Yi Sheng has created a series of intricate tableware that play with light. Through his process, he creates paper-thin silhouettes with ceramic, that play with the medium's translucency. This results in delicate pieces inspired by nature that are designed to allow light to pass through. Yi Yang Yi Sheng designs original concepts motivated by his love of nature, family, and life. His practice consists of elegant, and skillfully-made design pieces that accentuate any space. 

Zhenhan Hao has taken his inspiration from fabric. A graduate from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing as well as the Royal College of Art in London, his works reflect his unique understanding of how existing materials operate. At first glance, one might think that his works are made from textiles -- it is only when one moves in closer to hold them that they realize these works are ingeniously made from the far more fragile material of ceramic. 

Hao's ‘Imitation, imitation’ project delves into how China is renowned as the biggest production and duplication country in the world. During his studies, he became intrigued by ‘fake news’ and imitation. He found himself in Jingdezhen and started focusing on the part of the ceramics industry there that produces fake antiques, commenting on it through his practice by creating replicas himself. Hao's documentary on this subject uncovers the social, political and economic implications of China's imitation culture. He has created a new production model for the craftsmen in Jingdezhen: under this production model, the craftsmen both imitate and create at the same time. By doing this, Hao sought to inspire the imitators to explore their imagination and creativity. 

Taking this back to the Royal College of Art in London, he introduced this culture of Chinese imitation through a workshop with the absurd aim of drawing perfect circles. By getting individuals to copy a perfect circle by hand, Hao highlighted certain characteristics of imitation culture. These characteristics included how anything produced by hand can never be an exact copy, and how individuals will always unknowingly leave personal traits in their works. 

You can watch Hao’s documentary on ‘Imitation, imitation’ here: 



Click here to check out more ceramic works on The Artling! 

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