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Profound Restraint, Pearl Patina: Zhang Guiweis Golden Red Oil Spot Tianmu

Articles Su Yingchun Photos; Chen Mingcong

In recent years, Tianmu ceramics have grown in popularity. Ceramists all over have been experimenting and developing suitable clay bodies and glaze formulas for Tianmu wares,successively producing Tianmu pieces of myriad form and glaze hue, imbuing the genre with interesting new concepts and designs. As more people have become involved in creating Tianmu wares, the competition has grown, and the necessity to stand out from the crowd has become a prerequisite, with makers working in distinctive individual styles to create unique wares.

Zhang Guiwei, a graduate of the Graduate School of Plastic Arts, National Taiwan University of Arts, was greatly influenced by his teacher Wu Yutang, who inspired in him a fervid interest in glazes and glaze experimentation. Among his experiments, oil spot Tianmu glaze captivated him the most, possibly due to the difficulty of controlling this glaze, He chose to work in Tianmu, henceforth concentrating his efforts on studying oil spot Tianimu, which he has now pursued for the past fifteen years,

Asking Zhang Guiwei why chose to persist at oil spot Tianmu, he smiles, first replying that this is the question he is most often asked. He explains the four reasons for his persistent inquiry into oil spot Tianmu: the first is because he is attracted by the challenge of the difficulty and skill required to successfully fire such work; the second is the words of the ceramist Jiang Youting: "The greatest difference between ceramic art and other arts such as painting and sculpture is the necessity of 'firing' and the integration of man with the forces of nature!" This is also the most intrinsic, unique feature of ceramic art, which led Zhang Guiwei to steadfastly pursue study and experimentation with oil spot glaze firing. The third is the high artistic value of oil spot Tianmu that has been inherited as painting and sculpture is the necessity of 'firing' and the integration of man with the forces of nature!" This is also the most intrinsic, unique feature of ceramic art, which led Zhang Guiwei to steadfastly pursue study and experimentation with oil spot glaze firing. The third is the high artistic value of oil spot Tianmu that has been inherited from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) strongly appeals to him. The final reason is to create pieces that can favourably compare with Tianmu oil spot ceramic wares from the Song Dynasty. Belief in the four above factors has ensured Zhang Guiwei's steadfastness in his oil spot Tianmu creations.

In his creative process, Zhang Guiwei never ceases to challenge himself. In every stage of his making, he takes it upon himself to establish goals: in glaze formulation, firing techniques and every other aspect, he fine-tunes every detail, meticulously noting down the changes in end result that any adjustment may cause. His creation of Golden Red Oil Spot Tianmu is the direct result of his trials and attempts at creating a glaze that fires to this inimitable colour. Holding his latest creation in his hand and grinning, he says that, rotated under sunlight, this glaze can emit a pearly lustre, a red with brown and golden notes; it emits an air of profound restraint.

While admiring Zhang Guiwei's Golden red Oil Spot Tianmu, professor Xu of Shanxi Normal University not only eulogised these pieces, but went on to describe the depth of the golden duckweed details. He went on to say that ceramists firing Tianmu are by no means few in number, but that few are able to achieve such duckweed effects during the reduction process. This exhibition of his Golden red Oil Spot Tianmu displays the level of achievement Zhang Guiwei has reached in his work, as well as his steadfast determination to work in this fickle medium. After successfully firing this batch of oil spot Tianmu, Zhang Guiwei said that he has already begun work on a new glaze formula, attempting to capture the rainbow hues of clamshells, pursuing another natural aesthetic through the meeting of clay and fire.

Zhang Guiwei follows on to say that when he first began making oil spot Tianmu wares, he was absorbed in thinking about the techniques: in what ways the glaze formulas needed to be adjusted, in what form to throw the pieces, how to control the temperature of the kin, etc. But upon taking classes in the art of brewing tea by kung fu tea set, as he used his own piees in a calm, relaxed setting, his teacher added: "The maker of a ceramic object can only be responsible for half of the beauty; the other half is created by the user." These words made him realise that a correct relationship between a ceramic piece and a human must be an intrinsic part of any artistic creation. From this point, he merged more artistic ideas and essence of tea art into his works, causing his pieces to convey Zhang Guiwei's style and ideas, also attracting the attention of collectors. People who came into contact with his pieces found themselves touched by the pieces which were infused with a new beauty, finding their places in their lives.

Zhang Guiwei believes that oils pot Tianmu tea bowls "Can still the heart and soul, allowing us to roam the cosmos: within the small space, there is a limitless space." Oil spot Tianmu pieces look like they are formed and glazed easily, when actually they contain great life force, the reason why so many ceramic artists are attracted to pursue Tianmu. Zhang Guiwei adds that Japan has several ceramic artists who are considered national treasures, workers who have been making tea bowls for all of their lives, this persistent approach represents the destination of his studies, encouraging him to follow the road that he's on, imbuing his works with his passion and idealism, creating oil spot glazes that display unique colours and lustres.

Zhang Guiwei

1988 Born In Taoyuan, Taiwan Education: MFA, Graduate School of Plastic Arts, National Taiwan University of Arts
Apprenticeships: National Treasure (deceased) Ceramics Master Lin Baojia, Wu Yutang, National Taiwan University of Arts Professor Liu Zhenzhou

1998 Fengshan Datong Depart ment Store, Joint Exhibition
2000 Founded Yueyuan Ceramic Art Studio
2001 aDongmen Art Gallery,Fengyi Ceramics Association Joint Exhibition
2002 Shinkong Mitsukoshi Festival of Ceramic Art, Joint Exhibition 2002 Star Place Art Centre Five Person Joint Exhibition
2003 11th National Design Competition, work selected
2004 Gaoxiong County Cultural Centre, Fengyi Ceramics Association Joint Exhibition
2005 Taipei MRT Art Showcase, Craft Joint Exhibition
2006 Yixiang Tiankai Art Gallery Solo Exhibition
2007 Lectureship at Eastern Technical College
2008 Zongye International CeramicsExchang Exhibition
2009-2010 Kao Yuan University Teaching Post
2010 Transient Art Exhibition at Mother Goose Hut
2011 Gaoxiong Dream Era, One Hundred Years of Taiwan Exhibition
2011, January Pioneer of Golden Ref Oil Spot Tianmu

Representative Works
1.Unique Route Online Gallery, or search: Zhang Guiwei
2.Taihua Kiln, Gaoxiong Dream Era, 2nd Floor
3.Yixiang Tiankai Life Art Gallery, 23 Wen En Road, Gaoxiong
4. Taiwan Tea Garden, Qin Yuan Chun Tea City, Chang Chun. Jilin Provice,China