Yvan Deng’s ceramic works, which include both functional and sculpture, are infused with elements of fashion, humor, and character, depicted in traditional Chinese ink.
Arguably one of China’s more significant art forms, Chinese ceramics have been continuously developing in the country since pre-dynastic times. Yvan Deng had a long interest in the pottery and ceramics of China, and visited various studios over the years learning the basics. As always, he was drawn to taking ancient ideas and translating his love of beauty into new styles and onto new mediums.
One day, while visiting a friend’s studio, Yvan was introduced to a Master in ceramics, Xiuhui Wang. The Master’s family had spent generations at a studio in Jingdezhen, a thousand-year-old city and the heart of ceramics in China. Over uninterrupted cups of green tea, Yvan and Xiuhui Wang spent the afternoon talking about the ancient pottery traditions. By the end, the Master invited Yvan and Rodrigo to visit him in Jingdezhen. Without hesitation, Yvan accepted.
"My art is an emotional type of improvisation, and each new piece is a new moment of time. Ceramics is a whole new canvas." - YVAN DENG
Yvan and Rodrigo arrived to Jingdezhen in the middle of winter. Despite the cold, they strolled the city, charmed by the porcelain vases that covered the street lights and the artistic ambiance that permeated the shops and studios. Yvan spent the following weeks immersed in all the details of ceramics. From Xiuhui Wang he learned about aspects of art he’d never considered, looking at things like mud, temperature, and ovens. He found new layers to complex details, and developed a different relationship to color based on painting and firing, again and again, until he knew what to expect. When it was finally time to give it a try, Yvan brought to Jingdezhen’s art community what he liked the most: improvising.
One particularly cold day, Yvan and Xiuhui Wang finished firing a few pieces, each standing 1.5m tall. In his winter coat, Yvan set to work painting. After so much time spent teaching, the Master Xiuhui Wang now looked on, watching how a contemporary Chinese artist was transforming the way things were done. While others spend years learning how to paint on an unforgiving, un-erasable medium like pottery, Yvan was already well versed in following his heart. He took his brush and moved around his pieces with a quiet, bold confidence, incorporating traditional elements of Chinese painting into his own daring style.
Over the coming hours and days, those that entered the studio would see its landscape transformed. On surfaces large and small, where dragons, birds, flowers, and waterfalls commonly appeared, modern women’s faces now peered out—eyelashes and hair and sunglasses and earrings, their attitude and mystery fully intact. Often Yvan would layer in the traditional patterns, letting hallmarks of China’s past share the same space as those looking out onto her future.
By now, Yvan and Rodrigo found themselves welcomed into the Master’s home, sharing cozy traditional meals with the family. Over spicy chicken and Chinese wine, the artists toasted the sharing of art, to wellness and happiness. Xiuhui Wang also expressed the deep hope that Yvan would continue on with his work.
After his weeks in the city, Yvan had completed several pieces in varying shapes, forming the beginning of his own ceramics collection.
"My ceramic works are portraits of the mood of the moment, although they are not ancient works, the medium of porcelain gives them a unique sense of time." - YVAN DENG
Texts are abstracted from Yvan Deng: Dissociative Identity by Kelsey Heeringa, All Rights Reserved by YVAN DENG STUDIO © -2021