Jia Jia Chen
Jia Jia Chen
Artificial (?) Scholars Rocks
porcelain, nepheline syenite, calcined alumina
40 x 25 x 30cm
Rocks enjoy a special status in Chinese Culture. Regarded as representing a microcosm of the universe and for containing spiritual energies, the Chinese literati have collected them for thousands of years, placing them indoors to be revered as objects for both aesthetic appreciation and meditation; where the contemplation of ‘nature’s art’ allowed them to be transported to natural or imaginary worlds without leaving the confines of their urban residence. The visual features of these ancient ‘readymades’ were generally further embellished by sculptural interventions and often mounted upon specifically hand carved wooden pedestals, presenting an interesting artistic collaboration between ‘nature’ and man.
Artificial (?) Scholar Rocks is both a homage to my ancestral roots and a reinterpretation of this ancient practice of Chinese Scholar rocks through material exploration within the ceramic medium. The ‘rocks’ are the outcomes of alchemical experimentations with repeatedly high-firing Nepheline Syenite, a common ingredient in glaze formulation, in isolation from clay bodies. The materials and processes engaged with in these objects manifestation are in mimesis of Earth’s geological formations, playfully provoking inquires into the boundaries between the real and artificial and the dichotomies between the natural and manmade.
Scholar’s Rocks are considered to be the embodiment of the transformational powers of nature; can this modern day adaptation measure up to its ancient counterparts?