The flowers, grasses, rocks and hills of everyday life inspire me, the lines they show are alive and living. Creation should be the artist’s perception of life.
Filippo Vanni lives between his native New York, Paris, and Rome. He grew up around art as the grandson and son of painters Gian Berto Vanni and Ruggero Vanni. As a poet with a major in comparative literature, he sees his role of critic and curator as the continuation of the historic relationship between writers and artists to appreciate and use one another’s work.
“The flowers, grasses, rocks and hills of everyday life inspire me, the lines they show are alive and living. Creation should be the artist’s perception of life.”
– Liu Langqing
Liu Langqing imbues his sculpture with a promethean “breath of life”. The organic essence of Blanc de Chine, his medium, must be accounted for when molded in brief, intense moments of creation. The ceramicist, unlike sculptors of stone and metal, is not at tool’s length with the subject. Through the hands, body, and mind, energy flows to the artwork taking shape. Each sculpture is a vessel of the encounter between the artist’s interiority and the universal represented in nature. The jagged outline of a mountain peak, blades of grass bending to a breeze, or the rounded dip of a sand dune are all taken into the breadth of Langqing’s work. The simple or complex beauty of these natural subjects and the lines and rhythms he draws from them correspond in each piece:
“Every time I create a work, I face the same problem: how to create a meaningful visual effect from a simple form, or how to distill the essence of life by making a complicated form. I expect my works to be simple and undecorated, but with beautiful and architectural forms, so the lines in my works almost unite my thoughts on creation, the complexity of lines, the speed, the length, the curvature, the intonation […] the interweaving of lines and the ups and downs of thoughts.”
Based in Hangzhou, Langqing is rooted in the tradition of using porcelain to create art, exploring and experiencing “the non-self state as well as the spiritual freedom of the ancient Chinese literati”. He graduated from the China Academy of Art with an MFA in ceramics in 2007, and has been included in major institutions and museums such as the China National Pavilion, Shanghai Expo, Shanghai; Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou; China Academy of Art, Hangzhou; Cixi City Museum, Cixi; Jingdezhen Ceramic Museum, Jingdezhen; and Tang Yun Art Museum, Hangzhou.
As Picasso gently pinched a dove’s neck or Bernini extended an airy veil, Langqing transcribes lines and rhythms, conveying “the spontaneity and abstraction of life, which implies the relationship between human and nature”. He beats, rolls, stretches, molds, and rips his sculptures in a fit reminiscent of Action Painting. Liu Langqing materializes and reflects the emotional feelings experienced in daily life through abstract expression based on his process. The momentum and vitality of life and nature are gradually incorporated into the rhythm of improvisation. With millions of times experimenting in mind and practicing on hand, each meticulous porcelain piece requires the artist to shape and set instantly due to its delicate nature, with a harmonious result. These outbursts are controlled, however, and the result is harmonious. His body of work would seem an open enquiry into Plato’s Theory of Forms. The artist’s universal ideal (Eidos) of natural facets is shown in Drift (2010-2013), Glen (2013), The Other Shore (2007), and Sukhavati (2006), while Leaf Ripples (2021-2022), Breath of the Mountain (2005-2019), After Rain (2008), and Wind (2010) examine the shifting forms of the real world.
The Other Shore depicts the Eidos of a vessel. Depending on one’s perspective, a balanced, concave shape embraces the “area” held within. This symbiosis can represent waves lapping at a shore, or a crescent moon enveloping dark matter. lines meld or cut endlessly into one another, like in those of Antoine Pevsner’s work. The traits of porcelain clay; “White as snow, bright as a mirror”, enhance the timeless essence of the series.
Drift idealizes a quality, that is the movement of rising or falling curves and folds. The observer’s perspective is crucial to all of Langqing’s work, in this series none the less. Viewing a piece lengthwise, one feels an arabesque rolling diagonally, transformed into a cutting edge when seen from another angle. The fixation of a quality reveals differences in overlapping lines; sea glass becomes a broken shard; there are glinting crests or deep swells, sand urchins and squid bones.
In Leaf Ripples, his most recent series, each delicate sculpture evokes a deconstructed marble face, enclosing the lines of the elements. A leaf reeling in the wind superimposes the undulations where it rests. Sharp edges, like dancing flames, are a volcanic outcrop yielding to dark and foamy waves or steady, flowing mist. Sometimes, a monochrome tint emphasizes this movement. The points and folds encountered in these pieces imparts his mastery of material: one feels the ambiguous tension between a soft fabric or the porous grain of a rocky surface. These contrasting qualities are fixed in the sculptural form.
The ephemeral processes of the real world (decay, convolution, metamorphosis) are preserved in these sculptures. The search for an Eidos becomes a way of observing facets of constant change. Langqing’s renewal of each series is reflective of these evolving forms.