Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spirit of Yixing Tea Ware Exhibit

Ah Leon: “Memories of Elementary School” and the Spirit of Yixing Tea Ware
(from a press release)

Pomona, CA, AMOCA presents Ah Leon: ‘Memories of Elementary School” and the Spirit of Yixing Tea Ware, on exhibit from July 10 through September 25, 2010.

AMOCA presents Ah Leon, an international contemporary artist from Taiwan who merges Chinese Yixing traditions with his signature wood-textured trompe l’oeil style to form illusionistic installations. Originally trained as a painter at the National Academy of Fine Art in Taipei, Ah Leon became a master of the traditional Yixing style teapot; hand-built and unglazed in the prized purple clay stoneware from the southern part of Jiangsu Province in East China, where Chinese teapot production began in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE).

Ah Leon is well known for his installation of the Bridge, his most famous 68-foot handmade clay structure. His latest work on exhibit at AMOCA is titled, Memories of Elementary School, an installation of dilapidated school desks with his wood-like stoneware technique. Inspired by rustic Taiwanese wooden furniture, Ah Leon comments that “wood, much like clay itself, tells many stories like an ancient footprint.” Ah Leon’s installation emphasizes the surrealism of what it’s like to return to the past with an adult perspective. The desks personify the friends of his past; people from his home who have come back for reunion after 30 or 40 years to find the desks have aged or bear the same marks as those who once occupied them.

The Spirit of Yixing Tea Ware is part two of the exhibition displaying 100 Yixing teapots from the 18th century to the present. Some of these unglazed teapots were made to look like gourds, eggplant, or bamboo, and many have fanciful spouts and handles, often shaped to resemble dragons, frogs, or other transformative creatures. Interwoven with the ceramic teapots is the historic significance of tea culture, trade, and symbolism. These traditional variations are juxtaposed against the work of Richard Notkin, another contemporary ceramic artist known for his series of unglazed stoneware teapots which are reminiscent of Yixing wares circa 1500 AD to the present.

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