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Porcelain Sculptor Lv Pinchang from Jingdezhen

 Lv Pinchang

August 6, CCTV - Very often, if an artist is from Jingdezhen in eastern China's Jiangxi Province, then people assume that what he or she does must have something to do with porcelain. The reason is simple: the city has a porcelain-making history dating back over two millennia. It's seen by many as the indisputable home of Chinese porcelain. And in the case of Lv Pinchang, a Jingdezhen native, the assumption has proven both true and untrue.

Lv Pinchang said, "The impact of the fire on earth is not to alter, but to transform it forever. The power is known as the second creative force". To us artists, it's God's hands, or God's fire."

For Lv Pinchang, the moment of opening the kiln, after hours of waiting, is like receiving a revelation from God.

Half an hour later, Lv is finally able to lift his "baby" out of the ashes. And just like any new-born, it needs a "baptism", which turns its blackened face and charred skin into a shining green.

The men are muscled like professional body-builders. Light bounces on the skin, which seems to have been oiled. Yet for all their bulk, they are in no way intimidating, or malicious. The inspiration comes from wrestlers in ancient China.

Lv Pinchang said, "A lot of my time is spent studying traditional Chinese culture. Because I feel inclined to think in a way that reflects my Chinese artist identity."

This is Wuxi City in eastern China. Here on the riverside is one of the city's landmark buildings, the Wuxi Clay Figurine Museum. The cherubic babies, the most famous image in the craft's tradition, plays the role of a muse to Lv Pinchang.

The surface doesn't have the delicacy of porcelain, but resembles dried mud streaked with streams of water.

Despite the muses in Wuxi, Lv's creations have roots that go all the way to Jing-de-zhen County, the artist's hometown.

Lv said, "For me, the most enduring artistic influence comes from my hometown, its rich local culture and encompassing artistic milieu. I was born into this tradition. And even before realizing it, I had taken up porcelain, channeling my passion and creativity into it."

That history of porcelain-making, still evolving today, is in Lv's blood. But the artist didn't stop at copying the work of his forefathers. He has broken away from tradition, out of respect for it.

The idea for the "History Sight" series, which resemble ruins of ancient fortifications, first struck Lv when he was traveling the vast expanses of desert in the Chinese West.

Lv said, "Anything that has ever happened between you and the clay must have been preserved by the latter, in a rather careless way. In some other art forms, artists may be personally involved in only part of the creative process. But for porcelain, the involvement is total, from beginning to the end."

Lv Pinchang's work: Mother and Son

Over the years, the degree of intimacy that has developed between the artist and his material has led him to see its shortcomings as advantages. Many of his works feature fractured, even broken surfaces.

Lv said, "Traditional Chinese porcelain making emphasizes a set standard. Anything that's 'physically imperfect' is considered flawed, or even a failure. But as you know, the entire process of porcelain-making is prone to such so-called 'errors'. This quality, if you will, has prompted me to question the original standard, to rethink and broaden its aesthetic."

According to the artist's brother, Lv Pintian, who's also a noted curator and art critic, this inclusive tendency reflects his character.

Lv said, "My brother is an extrovert, passionate and decisive. This character is reflected in his creations. Most of his works are rather big in size. His treatment of the surfaces is very spontaneous. There is a raw energy about them. And his handling of the images is truer to the spirit than to the actual form."

This is Lv's workshop-classroom at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts. He's been teaching here since he moved to the capital in 1994. Scattered everywhere are the creations of his students, which are very often just as novel as their mentor's. Lv says he loves the job, which allows him to refill himself with new ideas.

But nothing compares with the moment when he puts the half-completed work inside the kiln, and the flames begin their work.

Lv said, "You never know what's going to happen inside the kiln. And it's always with an intense expectation that we artists wait for the final result to come out."

The anticipation, mingled with anxiety, is all-consuming. But there's a promise lying in the infinite possibilities. A promise in the blazing fire, as beautiful as the rising sun.