2018年11月30日 - 2019年1月6日
Museum of Dispositions — Ma Jun Solo Exhibition
30 November - 6 January, 2019
瓷 ＊ 姿 ＊ 思
ＣＩ ＺＩ ＳＩ
Porcelain * Posture * Pondering
— Ma Jun’s “Philosophy of Porcelain Making”
By: Hu Jiujiu
First of all, I would like to define a new concept of "porcelainology" inspired by the way Ma Jun makes porcelain. He seeks a way of expression that fits in the inner changes between pondering and posture. If his previous works were like "mathematical addition" that demonstrated what he thought in a high profile, then his latest works can be better analogized to subtraction that abandons what is unnecessary. Such change is a sign of the careful consideration of "simplification" or "subtraction". When the world order is grabbing "entropy increase" through the incremental explosion of big data, Ma Jun seems to reverse the trend by rebuilding some inner order that returns to the narrative method of "In the beginning was the Word". Ma inserts more in-depth metaphysical thinking to the form of his works, which marks the oriental perception and symbol.
Therefore, Ma Jun's "porcelainology" is so philosophical that it can even create a style peculiar to Ma Jun himself. He abstracts the extremely concise geometry and the dazzling colors, while the process of firing, due to the colossal volume and extreme simplicity, confronts various uncertainties that require the experiment and control of the degree of difficulty. Among a string of cultural and natural objects, such as rice paper, books and sand, Ma finds the "yardstick of abstraction". This porcelain-based abstraction not only shows the connection between objects, but also constructs Ma's symbolic "philosophy of plain porcelain making" through technical complexity.
The Heart Sutra, one of Ma’s impressive works, is composed of five consecutive golden strips, but it is also a "book without words". Extending from Porcelain· Book, Ma’s serial work, this masterpiece blends porcelain, sense of metal, paper and books with erased words to express a carefree mentality that retreats from the real world and resorts to religion. In this work, what is essential is well separated from what is superficial. So is what is existent and what is not, and what is static and what is dynamic.
In Ma’s another work Landscape, he unfolds the crumpled rice paper in which he adopts the texturing methods to create natural landscape from a bird’s eye view, as if viewers were the God overlooking the small mountains. The local delicate texture of this work testifies to the tremendous difficulty and technical excellence in fabrication. Ma Jun has buried himself in work creation over the past years when he may elevate his understanding of art to a new height, thanks to the abundant experience accumulated in these works. Hence his work presents itself in a state of self-generation.
Gewu (study of what is objective) is another work of Ma that fully embodies his "philosophy of plain porcelain making". By folding the traditional four-foot rice paper repeatedly, Ma divides the paper surface into squares with the creases remaining. Then he fabricates this work with the way of firing large-scale porcelain plates, so that the "cracks" can naturally find themselves on this work. It seems that this is what a simple work looks like, but the difficulty of firing is self-evident because of the large volume. According to Wang Yangming who proposed the concept of “Gewu”, “Things are objective. An intention must be the result of a thing, and what such intention rests on is something objective. The study of things is to right a wrong, so that what is right remains and what is wrong vanishes. To be right is to be good. This is how we study things.”
Another work of Ma revealing the "nature" and "disposition" is Silence, in which planet-like dust, the sand sprinkled by Ma, is scattered in a golden disk that resembles the universe. The process of firing leads to the inevitable radial cracks but they are carefully restored by the author, the deformation of which startles the viewers. The lightning- or root-like cracks invite the philosophical pondering on metaphysics.
Perhaps this is the touching part of Ma Jun's "Philosophy of Porcelain Making". He intentionally deprives the porcelain making of various options for functionality and artistry, while he enhances the outlet of "metaphysics", and reflects the self-introspection “with no need to seek external strength”.
While constructing his philosophy of porcelain making, Ma is considering propositions that nearly probe into the essence: What is porcelain? What are the functions of porcelain? What is the ontology of porcelain? Besides, we can see that the questioning of philosophy by artists is a mirror of the philosophical posture of porcelain, which, in turn, nourishes the "meta-narration" of porcelain, and endows the porcelain with the "word-style" thinking.
Irrespective of the "meta-narration" of porcelain or the construction of "meta-porcelain", Ma Jun's "Philosophy of Porcelain Making" has broken a new path. Instead of indulging in details and mimicry, or prioritizing the reconciliation and parody between the past and the present, he has a deeper understanding of a driving force fueled by "cultural self-confidence". Such driving force is a "meta-driving force" that grants Ma access to inner peace and freedom of expression.
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