Li XiaofengSunday, August 28th, 2011
Li Xiaofeng is a Bejing artist who creates clothing piece made from traditional Chinese ceramics, assembling them with silver wires, he follows drawings and sketches that he conceives when finding archaeological porcelain treasures. Celebrating the past through the use of antique pieces and making clothing that recalls tradition such as Chinese costumes and armours, this artist started surprisingly enough as a muralist before turning to sculpture. But Mr. Xiaofeng is not only looking backward and partnered last year with Lacoste to create a limited series of Polo’s for both women and men that refers to his art. More than being a symbol, these Lacoste polo’s are a “hey” to the digital world we live in. Of course they are not in porcelain as they are meant to be worn (and washed…) but have been made out of a life-size digital pattern. He uses lots of blue and white shards featuring lotus and children, symbols of fertility and of the future. SOURCE
The shards he is using on his work are coming from the Song, Ming, Yuan and Qing dynasties, which particular type of folk ceramics reflects the Imperial taste at that time. Within his Works there are women dresses, suit jackets and t-shirts out of ceramics.
He explains “My first piece using ceramic shards was a Mao jacket. The name of the piece was “Beijing Memories”. My idea was to distill this era to a new level through art.
Lia Xiaofeng describes the way he is creating work as follows “ Firstly, composing the piece is a process. I must reflect a lot about it. I must make a rough sketch, compose, reject it and start again. Sometimes, I straightaway use Plasticine or wire to create a model. After this, after confirming the period of the shards, I classify the colour of the patterns, then put together a rough arrangement of the shards, cut and polish each piece. This is a very repetitive process. I must pay close attention to the modelling as well as the original pattern colour of the shards. I then must weld the pieces and make the final adjustments.”
“For the limited edition printed polo, he chose blue and white shards with lotus and children designs from the Kangxi Period (1662 – 1772 AD) of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 AD). The lotus grows from mud underwater to emerge as a flower, symbolising purity and rebirth. Images of babies represent fertility, as during that period the high infant mortality rate meant that people decorated ceramics with babies hoping they would be blessed with children.” (Official press via Lacoste). SOURCE
Xiaofeng’s career began as a muralist. But his admiration for the hand-stroked landscapes depicted on historic Chinese porcelain took over, and soon he was fashioning evocative, performance-piece costumes from shards of ancient pottery found in construction sites across Beijing.
Interview With Ceramic Artist Li Xiaofeng:
How did this idea come to you, to fashion costumes from ceramics?
It goes back to 2003, when I started collecting ancient shards as a hobby. When I felt I had enough, I began to create art works from them. That form of art [historical painting techniques] inspired me to replicate it in wearable forms, using ceramics. After a lot of experimentation, I managed to achieve a piece of sculpture.
Describe your workspace.
In Beijing, there are streets full of artist studios called campang. Eight other artists share my campang with me. I have equipment to polish and model, using fire and oxygen. I’m always surrounded by ceramics; I need to look at my collection on a daily basis.
How did you arrive at your current process?
In the beginning, I was using ceramics from the Ming ancient dynasty. I made holes in the shards and stitched them together. But the bronze wire I was using wasn’t working. The pieces were untreated and I was joining them internally. They were like needles and it was painful, unwearable. I wanted them to be movable. A French jewelery designer in the campang at the time showed me how to join the shards using silver wire. Silver is more flexible and now every silver wire is individually joined externally.
How does your medium affect your creative process?
Ceramics are used by the Chinese to eat rice. I break them into fragments to cover the human body, looking for the relation and the dialogue between the body and the shards. Both have to be compatible. Big or small, the shards must suit the form. In China, ancient ceramics tell long tales. The neck of a vase, for example, is not just for function, but is an expression of status and beauty. This is why the back of the Lacoste Polo is made to reflect the back of the crocodile.
How do you work?
There is no specific time or place where inspiration comes to me. It’s a long process of reflection, which I do alone. It’s not enough to have an idea; it has to be transformed into reality. I do much of the processing, such as the polishing and modeling of ceramic pieces, but my assistants do some of the more technical details. SOURCE
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