|Shi Shaoping paints on a ceramic tower in his studio. Shi says these solid, man-size twisting towers and spires - fired-through in a kiln at 1,300 degrees Celsius for three days and nights - involve the relationship between what can be controlled and what cannot.(Shanghai Daily)|
Artist Shi Shaoping challenges conventional ideas about ceramics art, creating 3,000 solid "dinosaur eggs" and now switching to solid, man-size towers that are fired for three days.
Artist Shi Shaoping's signature works used to be huge watery paintings of mysterious, shifting, frog-like creatures. Sometimes he incorporated real frog skins in the series titled "Metamorphosis."
Now Shi himself has been metamorphosed and reinvented into a ceramist. He made a huge splash at ShContemporary last month with an awesome untitled installation of around 3,000 solid, 2kg "eggs" fired in a kiln for three days each. The eggs were arranged in orderly fashion outside the Shanghai Exhibition Center. Successfully firing enormous, solid forms is extremely difficult and had not been attempted, to his knowledge, he says.
The eggs symbolized nurturing life, but since they were solid, there was no room for new life, Shi says, adding that the installation reflects the collision of hopes and desperation. "Like dinosaur eggs, this work can exist for 10,000 years," he says.
Now he continues to explore large, solid ceramics - but no more eggs - in a solo exhibition of recent works, which includes large spires. The show is titled "Single Cut," a reference to his use of a knife for simple texturing of the seemingly rough-hewn work. These, too, require long firing.
Usually when an artist establishes a new art signature, such as the egg installation, he would try to strengthen that particular signature through frequent exhibits.
But Shi chooses a different course. While the egg images are fresh in viewers' minds, he veers to something different, textured towers, pyramids and spires, to challenge traditional ceramic art.
"This is the first time I have tried ceramics," Shi says. "I experimented in Jingdezhen (a cradle of Chinese ceramics in east China's Jiangxi Province) for nearly a whole year - even the act itself is a brave and interesting performance art."
When he arrived in Jingdezhen and told craftsmen he wanted to make eggs, he had no experience with ceramics. He had been trained as a painter.