Traditional yet mod­ern

Artist Jiang Baolin be­lieves porce­lain paint­ing should con­form to its era, carry mod­ern cul­tural in­for­ma­tion and re­flect the laws of nature

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Jiang Baolin

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

Chi­nese cul­ture.

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.

Photo: Jiang Baolin

Artist Jiang Baolin.

Dong Fang Zhi Yun

(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)

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