Visitors to the 2014 China Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair check a giant bowl in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. The city is known as the capital of porcelain in China.[Photo/China Daily]
Chinese water-ink painting, brighter Western watercolors and delicate porcelain are integrated in the works of US artist Philip Read, making him a focus of attention at the 2014 China Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair in Jingdezhen.
Attracted by the art of ceramics, Read has been living in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, for the last four years. It is the third time he has brought his artworks to the annual event, which runs through Oct 22.
“I have a studio here and I also teach making ceramics,” said Read, one of a number of specialist foreign artists plying their trade in a city that has been producing quality pottery for about 1,700 years.
“I own another studio in New York, but my works are much more popular in China, for their style is more Chinese than Western, which can be better understood by the Chinese collectors,” he said.
Thirty years ago, Read, who was then a watercolor painter, started to learn Chinese water-ink painting, and after that, he gradually developed a unique style that combines the techniques of the two types of painting.
About 20 years ago, a trip to Jingdezhen introduced Read to the world of ceramics. “Before that trip, I was not that interested in ceramics, but after I touched the material, I realized how magical and special it is. From that point on, I started to get more and more involved in ceramics,” he said.
Read sees similarities between painting on paper and ceramics. “The porcelain is as white as paper, so it can make beautiful contrasts. The clay is also absorbent, just like paper, which allows me to use the same painting techniques.” He prefers painting on ceramics because “the light and color of it make the painting much more beautiful.”
“The technique, concept and style of my works are all a fusion of Chinese and Western art,” he said. “I have to explore Chinese culture in order to create better works, and that is one of the reasons why I chose to settle down here.”
The fair has attracted companies and artists from 35 countries and regions.
Like Read, Dutch artist Adriaan Rees has also made his home in Jingdezhen.
“For the past seven years, I have been partly living in this city, making ceramics and promoting exchanges between artists in Jingdezhen and Delft, which is the ceramics capital of the Netherlands,” he said.
Rees is the organizer of the World Ceramic Road, an alliance of 17 European and Asian cities that specialize in the pottery industry.
“The member cities are encouraged to exchange their ideas and techniques,” he said.
The fair has also attracted exhibitors from Japan and the Republic of Korea. Kutani ware, a style of porcelain from Japan, has been drawing attention with its exquisite craftsmanship.
Sales agent Yuan Jiangping said Kutani ware has a history of more than 300 years, and all the products are made by small workshops in Kutani village. “It is known for using multiple colors and gold-leaf printing,” he said.
It is the 11th time Kutani ware has been displayed at the fair.
“More and more Chinese people are getting to know this Japanese brand, and our sales volume in China is growing year by year. Now, our annual sales volume here is more than 100 million Japanese yen ($940,000),” according to Japanese ceramics maker Nobuyuki Shimazaki.
“There is no competition between the ceramics of Jingdezhen and Kutani, since their styles are totally different,” he said. “Appreciating other people’s work at the fair has always been an inspiring experience to me.”