Henan to host the country’s first biennale on ceramics with 800 items
Long known for its porcelain ware produced in the kilns of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Central China’s Henan province is now set to hold a ceramics biennale.
Starting on Friday, the Central China International Ceramics Biennale, considered the first of its kind in the country, will unveil the beauty of these delicate objects. The show will be held at Henan Museum in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, and feature some 800 porcelain pieces, including modern items and antiques from China and Italy.
Many exhibits from other countries are also expected to be on display. An exhibition titled Cont(r)act Earth will showcase wares, sculptures, installations and videos by 42 artists from 20 countries.
The biennale, which runs through March 12, will also hold three other events.
Xu Rui, deputy director of the biennale preparation office and a researcher at the Henan Museum, says at a recent news conference in Beijing that half of the artworks have been specially made for the exhibition. Some foreign artists have spent months in Henan to create their pieces, which are inspired by local traditional architecture and ancient figurines that are part of the collections at Henan Museum.
The exhibition will show about 500 contemporary art pieces made of clay to reveal the relationship between humans and nature, as well as the individual and society.
“Ceramics is an old art form across the world. It is not easy to transform it into contemporary art,” Wang Huangsheng, a member of the biennale’s art committee, says at the Beijing event.
When it comes to ceramics in China, people either associate it with antique ware or Jingdezhen, in East China’s Jiangxi province, which is often called the “porcelain capital”, he says.
But Henan has had a long relationship with the material as well.
Apart from contemporary artworks, the biennale will also host an event to showcase rare porcelain pieces of ancient China. All the 100 pieces that have been borrowed from major museums across the country for this event were produced in the famous five kilns named Jun, Ru, Guan, Ge and Ding.
Three of the kilns were once located in present-day Henan and made wares only for Song royalty. Some techniques used by these kilns have been lost.
Tian Kai, director of Henan Museum and organizer of the biennale, says porcelain was first found in Central China. Unearthed relics show that about 10,000 years ago ceramics were used in Central China in daily life.
Central China witnessed a period of innovation in porcelain, says Tian.
“That’s why our museum is holding the biennale.”
Henan Museum got funding for the biennale from the central and local governments.
To showcase China’s porcelain antiques, yet another event will be held during the biennale, where nearly 140 items from the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza will be displayed. The antiques are thought to have been produced between the 10th century and the 20 th century.
The Italian city of Faenza is known in Europe for its pottery.
Tian says the biennale plans to introduce different Western cities with a history of ceramics to boost cultural exchanges.
The inauguration of Musee d’Orsay in Paris in 1986, featuring French President Francois Mitterrand. The museum celebrated its 30th anniversary over the weekend.
Henan Museum will host the Central China International Ceramics Biennale starting from Friday.