Chen, Ching-Liang / Ah Leon

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Ah Leon (Chen, Ching-Liang) was born in 1953 in Pingtung, Taiwan. The artist comes from a farming family. He passed his exams to enter the National Taiwan Academy of Art in 1978 and graduated in 1982. Ah Leon is not only attracted by the tradition of making teapot 500 year-old of China but also impress with the Western ceramists’ freedom. This led him to combine both in creating the valuable sculptures. The first time, the artist succeed in using clay to create ceramic tea pots. Then, he used unglazed pottery which look like aged wood to make pure sculpture. Because of the memories of the childhood, he started to make The desk and chair in Memories of Elementary School (2010) which took him 4 years to complete.

I really like how he uses clay to recreate the wood texture. They look very impressive.

Works by the artist were exhibited in a Solo Exhibition at the Jeroen Bechtold Ceramics Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1996.

Pictures: Portrait, around 2015 (source; Annual Ring Tea-pot, 2002 (source Metaphysical Art Gallery); Big Horizontal Tree Trunk Tea Pot, 2005 (source Metaphysical Art Gallery); The Memory of the Elementary School, 2008 (source Metaphysical Art Gallery).

Work of the artist: 

" I began my artistic career as a painter. After some time, I came to the realization that my strength as an artist, and my way to making a living, was in clay. I made a conscious choice to follow the Yixing pottery tradition as the foundation of my ceramic art, because I felt that Chinese teapot art was a uniquely powerful subject within the art world. Nothing could compare with it. It stemmed from a five hundred year old tradition, and such a deep well of artistic history and influence was hard to find anywhere else in the world. I felt that a contemporary potter would have to understand the strong aesthetic and working attitude of the best Yixing teapot makers to reach their level of excellence. This was a great challenge.

My ceramic art changed dramatically, after many years of learning, teaching, and practice, when I traveled to the United States in 1987. I had the opportunity to meet many great modern ceramic artists and observe how they expressed themselves through clay. I was influenced by them in an unobtrusive way; they began to open my eyes to their freedom of expression.

 This feeling began, almost imperceptibly, to make its way into my art. At this point, a qualitative change in my artwork occurred. I embraced this new phase of artistic freedom, while at the same time being acutely aware that I wanted to preserve my heritage as a Taiwanese artist and continue to reflect that cultural characteristic in my work. Now, I want my work to be identifiable as stemming from my Taiwanese heritage, and at the same time show the expressiveness of a contemporary artist.

"I have been identified as an artist who is style is "Trompe l'oeil." This is true in part. However, I endeavor not only to employ technical expertise to manipulate clay and represent it in a realistic manner, but also to create a sculptural dialogue that is interwoven with my cultural background. For example, my "Tree Trunk T-Pot" maintains the functional appearance of a teapot, but is actually a "sculpture with teapot features." In contains and integrates multiple layers to be studied and interpreted - the trompe l'oeil technique, contemporary sculptural expression, the philosophy of Chinese ceramic art, and Taiwanese cultural tradition. The sculptural work "Bridge: Illusion in Clay," is my greatest effort to date, which combines all of these elements. While the details are precise, my wish is that Bridge, as well as my other work, will conjure up images of "East to West, past to present, vessel to installation, and traditions of mainland China to experiments of postmodern Taiwan" (Text: Metaphysical Art Gallery).