A contemporary encounter of antique royal porcelain and Chinese ink-wash art

Wang Jie
An exhibition at the C3M North Bund Art Museum features two types of traditional Chinese art – antique royal porcelain works and ink-wash painting.
Wang Jie

The exhibition "Porcelain Rhyme with Honest Heart" at C3M North Bund Art Museum through January 25 reflects the collision between Chinese antique royal porcelain and traditional Chinese ink-wash art.

On display are 30 antique royal porcelain items collected by Cai Xuanmin, echoed with artist Chen Qi's paintings and calligraphy inspired by the porcelain.

An antique and royal-porcelain expert, Cai has long been interested in combining his porcelain with traditional Chinese art.

"Chinese antique porcelain, especially the blue-and-white porcelain from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), actually has a close link with Chinese ink-wash painting and calligraphy," Cai said, who began collecting it in the 1970s.

Some of his antique porcelain wares were selected to be shown at G20 in 2016 in Hangzhou in neighboring Zhejiang Province and the 9th BRICKS Summit in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, in 2017.

He said it was five years ago when he thought of inviting an artist to paint the 30 "best of the best" royal porcelain from his collection.

In his eyes, the paintings should not be the simple copies of the porcelain pieces, but reflections of their hidden charisma stamped with historical traces.

"The artist should be a lover of antique porcelain and have a solid base in painting and calligraphy," Cai said.

Cai hunted for his ideal artist until he met Chen three years ago.

"Cai saw my painting and was excited to share his knowledge of Chinese antique royal porcelain with me," said Chen, who is vice chairman of the Shanghai Artists' Association and a veteran painter.

"He later showed me his rich collection," Chen said.

The two agreed the paintings of the porcelain should be recreations.

A contemporary encounter of antique royal porcelain and Chinese ink-wash art
Ti Gong

An antique porcelain jar from the Yuan Dynasty collected by Cai Xuanmin

A contemporary encounter of antique royal porcelain and Chinese ink-wash art
Ti Gong

An ink-wash painting created by Chen Qi for this antique porcelain

Prior to painting, Chen studied Chinese royal porcelain from different periods, trying to find their special colors and patterns.

For example, when depicting one blue and white porcelain jar from the Yuan Dynasty, he used old paints he'd collected, which he considered closer to the hues on the porcelain.

The movement of fish through freehand brushwork mirrors the fish pattern on the porcelain.

"The collaboration of two artists has injected a sense of contemporary sophistication and innovative flair in the traditional Chinese art," Cai said.

A series of souvenir stamps and transportation cards printed with the porcelain and paintings are also on display at the exhibition.

Exhibition info

Dates: Through January 25 (closed on Mondays); 11am-6pm (Tuesdays-Thursdays), 11am-9pm (Fridays-Sundays)

Venue: C3M North Bund Art Museum

Address: 4/F, 999 Dongdaming Rd

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