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FINE CHINA is a solo exhibition presented by Gallery 1313 comprised of interdisciplinary artist, Jeremy Tsang’s recent works that deal with the sociopolitical history surrounding fine china and its iconography, food and culture. The exhibition is one part genealogy of fine china and one part Duchampian Readymades.
Porcelain or “fine china” as it is referred to informally in any Anglo-centric countries, is an invention of the Chinese, with prototypes dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC). Porcelain is term derived from the Old Italian word porcellana. It is created through heating kaolin at a high temperature between 1,200 and 1,400 Celsius. The reason why porcelain became the forefront of ceramic and highly prized is for its considerable strength, translucency (with the introduction of bone ash) and high resistance to thermal shock and chemical attack. With the birth of the Silk Road and Western Imperialism in Asia, the export of porcelain began and the demand grew exponentially. Simultaneously, the term “fine china” was born and the mutual fascination between the continents and the age of Orientalism also began.
With FINE CHINA, Tsang attempts to trace the lineage of this mutual fascination between the west and the east through many commonly known motifs like the Blue Willow (with background story), Indian Tree, Chinoiserie, British-esque and the traditional & contemporary synonymous Chinese blue white pattern. In this body of work, Tsang raises questions of appropriation versus cross-pollination, authenticity in post-cultural revolution and the effect of cultural diaspora. The imprints of the artist are evident in the sculptural interventions which are juxtaposed to the non-existence traces of the fine china makers. In essence, this preamble exhibition seeks to pose a larger regarding culture in the present day. Fine china is a product that is mass-produced, at many times mimics and displays characteristics of fine handmade artistry. Innate to ceramics is also its characteristic to represent culture and heritage; by extension does this point to culture being a mass-produced construct?