The colour white has many different connotations the world over from representing notions of purity at western weddings, to the act of mourning in the east. White also has a special significance in the world of craft – especially in Chinese ceramics through the art of Dehua porcelain. Having been in existence since as far back as the Ming dynasty, Dehua is also widely known as Blanc de Chine throughout much of the western world.
It began to arrive in Europe in large quantities from the 18th century and was manufactured throughout the continent in many places, including Germany’s town of Meissen, which gave way to its own western brand of Dehua simply known Meissen porcelain. The craft’s cultural shift in the 18th century was by no means an anomaly, and remains an art very much in flux to this day.
Su Xianzhong is one notable master craftsman from Dehua, specialising in the contemporary life of this historic art form. His great grandfather was the renowned artist Su XueJing, whose work has been collected worldwide including by the Met Museum and the V&A. However, Su Xianzhong’s work is far from derivative. He finds fabric in porcelain, crafting the intricate details of textiles through this traditional Chinese practice.
Creating stacks of textiles from Dehua porcelain, Su Xianzhong subverts this traditional craft by veering away from traditional forms, instead venturing into the flimsy folds inherent in the physicality of fabric. This meeting between sectors of the applies arts can be seen in person at the Tresor Contemporary Craft Fair in Basel this September. Represented by Chinese gallery Ting Ying, Su Xianzhong will be exhibiting his new ceramics alongside a selection of fellow Chinese and British craftsmen, each engaging in the art of traditional crafts through their own, contemporary perspectives.
Tresor Contemporary Craft Fair, 21 - 24 September 2017
Messehalle 3, Messe Basel, Basel, Switzerland