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Chinese artist redefines porcelain art to go global

Master of the craft Lai Dequan bridges Eastern tradition with Western aesthetics

By Zhao Ruinan in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-01 07:22
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A visitor learns about Jingdezhen ceramic artworks at the exhibition in Paris. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Although immersed in traditional Chinese ceramic art from a young age, Lai never confined himself to it. He has always been interested in Western and contemporary art.

"I often look at Western oil paintings, like Monet's and Van Gogh's. I think their use of color is excellent. Monet's sense of light and color is very delicate. So, I use ceramics to create colors and light that oil paintings cannot bring," Lai said.

In 2005, his porcelain plate paintings caught the attention of a British museum curator at an auction in Hong Kong's Pacific Place.

"The collector saw one of my porcelain plate paintings and was amazed. He said it looked like a Chinese oil painting but didn't feel like an oil painting. Later, when he found out it was done on a ceramic plate, he was wowed," Lai said.

The British collector told Lai that he had never bought ceramics but bought one of Lai's porcelain plate paintings for 800,000 yuan ($110,480).

Lai believes that the benefit of Jingdezhen's ceramic artists going global is bridging the communication between Eastern and Western art.

"It's just like what I did in the late last century. If I didn't go out of my country and meet my artist peers in Japan, South Korea, or any other place, they wouldn't know how China's artists are doing and what China's porcelain art looks like," said Lai.

Lai combines traditional Chinese art with Western style, adopting techniques such as finger painting. Pearlcolored porcelain is a unique style he developed.

"Art should retain its national character while appropriately incorporating some Western colors and styles to integrate the East and the West," Lai said. "By doing it this way, Chinese artists' artworks can go beyond borders, and people in other countries can appreciate and collect Chinese art."

Lai said the move would expand the exchange of art creation while promoting the export sales of Chinese ceramics.

Jingdezhen, where Lai resides, is accelerating China's ceramics and its creators' path to the global stage.

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