Traditional yet modern
Artist Jiang Baolin believes porcelain painting should conform to its era, carry modern cultural information and reflect the laws of nature
As everyone knows, the essential difference between porcelain painting and plain painting lies in the three-dimensional language system that is established by the former. Porcelain painting is a practice affected by paint concentration, temperature and time, which
requires the maximum creative inspiration from the artist.
I am a Chinese porcelain painting artist. With so many years of creating and research, I have a very clear concept of art.
To be brief, it is not only traditional but also modern.
I started researching and creating porcelain painting tens of years ago, and I think my concept of art also applies to the creation of porcelain painting.
Porcelain painting has a long history in China. The appearance of porcelain in the form of boards is the result of the gradual improvement of the technology used in pottery and porcelain making.
The history of painting on porcelain boards is shorter than that of other traditional art forms. Some documents date the emergence of porcelain board paintings back to the middle of the Ming Dynasty (13681644).
The reason the art form appeared relatively late is due to the higher requirement in firing a porcelain board.
The appearance of porcelain boards fostered the emergence of porcelain board painting and birthed a new genre that elevated porcelain works from mere decoration to art because of their integration with painting.
Over the past several hundred years, porcelain board painting has gone through great development and has pushed porcelain art to a higher level, making them carry more cultural characteristics.
I have done extensive research on painting on porcelain, and my creative concept pays attention to both the traditional and modern aspects of the craft. I consider the techniques used to make porcelain work as well as the material when creating new pieces.
My work Dong Fang Zhi Yun (The Rhyme of the East), which will be exhibited soon, was completed using that concept. The work won the Lifetime Achievement Prize of Silver Willow during the Cambridge Xu Zhimo Poetry Art Festival in 2017.
In my concept, being traditional means that we need brush and ink. Brush and ink are primary cultural symbols in Chinese paintings.
The quality of a painting lies in how the artist uses the brush. The accumulation of knowledge regarding how to use a brush has about 2,000 years of history.
To some extent, the artistic level of some Chinese paintings is determined by whether the artist uses the brush well.
How one uses brush and ink can be discussed from both the spiritual and the technical level.
Regarding technique, one should obey the traditional rules and have skill.
On the spiritual level, the application of brush and ink should embody the characteristics of Chinese painting as well as China’s cultural spirit. Only if you put brush and ink at a higher spiritual level, can the value system of Chinese paintings be presented and established.
Honestly speaking, painting on porcelain boards weakens the application of brush and ink. But my way of creating porcelain paintings attaches much importance to brush and ink.
Take the blue-and-white pattern for example; to some extent, it has many similarities with Chinese ink paintings. The majority of my porcelain paintings are blue-and-white paintings with other supplementary colors.
Solving the problem of applying brush and ink to porcelain painting is one of the major problems that I focus on when creating porcelain
We know that Chinese painting has its unique characteristics and embodies Chinese culture.
In the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) dynasties, Chinese paintings paid much attention to how to shape an item. In the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368), the focus was switched to how to express and look for the cultural interest in the paintings.
This trend was further developed in the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. In other words, one cannot fully understand a Chinese painting without first understanding
Therefore, Chinese painting should embody the spirit of Chinese art, and its development should be based on the extension of traditional Chinese culture so that it will have a more stable core value and longevity.
My porcelain painting creation is based on tradition, but that alone is not enough. Maintaining tradition is a precondition but not the aim. The aim is to break through tradition for innovation. Therefore, being modern should be combined with maintaining tradition.
Being modern means presenting modern aesthetics, updating art concepts and establishing new art forms.
It means looking for new ideas, new environments, new forms and new lines in a way that is different from any other ones. In practice, one should review national artworks that possess a modern view and use the modern factors that cater to national aesthetics.
Full composition, planarization and decorative function are some of the modern factors that I pursue when creating something. Each charismatic piece should give viewers a strong visual impact.
Another important factor in modern art is the repetition of one or several similar symbols, which creates the beauty of repetition and carries a sense of being modern.
Chinese porcelain items, no matter whether they are round, square or in irregular shapes, most of them are three-dimensional. With such dimensions, the repetition of symbols will create a stronger artistic effect.
I think it is valuable in enrich- ing porcelain painting and is worth further research.
I always believe that the works that conform to this era, when compared with the original classic civilization, should carry more modern cultural information, which means that it should not only have a strong sense of form and concept but also obey the laws of nature. It should be a pure Chinese work, different from any other genre and have both inclusive and independent factors. Although the artistic culture is being diversified, these works should keep the genre unique.
So, my porcelain painting creations have combined the tradition of “very Chinese” and the modern aesthetics of “very international.”
They are conservative in keeping traditional and using brush and ink but very open in terms of innovation and being modern. Strong national characteristics, clear individuality and modernity are what I have been pursuing.
In other words, my language in porcelain board painting is the same with that of Chinese painting, and they are both a comprehensive expression of being traditional and modern.
On the skill level, they both reflect the evolution from a single technique to multiple techniques. In terms of traditional cultural value, they both approach a deeper level of life and cultural awareness.
Also, in cultural forms, no matter whether it is oil painting or prints, Eastern or Western, anything that meets the purpose can be used. Therefore, a work that can reflect new changes in the world, new cultural development or modern aesthetics can be formed.
The forum this time aims to compare and research Chinese and Western cultural arts with porcelain painting as a carrier. Art knows no boundary or time. Whether it is Chinese or Western, art embodies cultural spirit. The only difference lies in the way it is expressed.
As one who loves Chinese paintings, what I can do is to apply my art concept to enrich the artistic language of porcelain painting. I find satisfaction in helping to establish the art language of the porcelain painting genre.
Artist Jiang Baolin.
(The Rhyme of the East)
This work won the Lifetime Achievement Prize of Silver Willow during the Cambridge Xu Zhimo Poetry Art Festival in 2017. The festival looks at the influence of China’s new cultural movements on European civilization over hundreds of years and aims to promote cultural exchange between China and the UK. The festival has become one of the largest and most influential Sino-British
2018·19, (Jiang Baolin’s ink wash painting)
2017·23, (Jiang Baolin’s porcelain work)
2017·29, (Jiang Baolin’s porcelain work)
2017·15, (Jiang Baolin’s porcelain work)