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Monday, May 28, 2018

Johnson Tsang

At first glance, Johnson Tsang's sculptures often seem whimsical. At second glance, as with his Security Summit...they're not.
A Cup of Tear, Johnson Tsang
Many years ago, before I ever took my first college art class, I experimented with modeling the human head in clay. I was never very successful at it so I chose portrait painting instead. I've never regretted that decision, at least not to the point of going back and trying a second time. Working in two dimensions, even given the demands of realistic illusion, is usually easier than three-dimensional constructions or carving. That is why, to this day, I have a great deal of respect for those with the talent and patience to capture faces, in whatever media, in three dimensions. One such individual is the Chinese artist, Johnson Tsang.
Tsang's medium of choice is the technically demanding art of porcelain.
Tsang was born Chang Tsong-zung in 1951 in Hong Kong. He graduated from Williams College in 1973. Since then (the 1980s), he has been curating art exhibitions. He founded Hanart TZ gallery in Hong Kong in 1983. It is now one of the city's most established. In doing so, Tsang became ;a pioneer in introducing contemporary Chinese art to international exhibitions in the 1990s. It was through his gallery that he organized exhibitions of the Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming at the Singapore Art Museum in 1986 and Place Vendôme in Paris in 1997.More recently, in Shanghai in 2010, Tsang organized "West Heavens," a contemporary art collaboration between China and India.
Tsang's Hong Kong gallery often takes on the look of a police lineup when all his faces get together for a reunion.
Open Mind, Johnson Tsang
An integral part of surrealism is the latter half of the term, hinting at the link between the conscious and sub-conscious as seen in the work of any number of surrealist painters too num-erous and too familiar to bear ment-ioning. Not so often, however, do we see this relationship in the work of surrealist sculptors (perhaps because there aren't that many of them). Tsang peels back the outer layer of con-sciousness to reveal an inner con-sciousness (sub-conscious) struggling to burst forth and make itself known through the efforts of creativity. Tsang's Open Mind (left) and Lucid Dream series (below) typify the artist's profound, yet lighthearted, approach to his subject content.
Amusing? Perhaps, but Tsang's work is far more than a series of funny faces.
Though Johnson Tsang is based in Hong Kong, his work has been exhibited there as well as, Taiwan, Korea, Spain, and Switzerland. He is collected by many local and overseas museums. Tsang’s mostly employs realist sculptural techniques accompanied by a vivid surrealist imagination, integrating the two elements, “human beings” and “objects”, into surrealist themes. In addition to porcelain, Tsang focuses on other ceramic media, as well as stainless steel sculptures for public art projects.

More from the Lucid Dreams series.

As in the case of many (perhaps most) artists Tsang, for some thirteen years, had a day job. He worked as a police officer before starting to make art a full-time endeavor. It was this passion for art that led him, in 1991, to make the crucial step in devoting himself to ceramics. He fell in love with clay immediately as he kept having ideas even when he wasn’t in his pottery class. Two years later, in 1993, Tsang decided to quit his "day job" to explore a new life as a ceramic sculptor. It was this turning point that changed his life forever. Art changed the way he observed things happening around him.

Soul Shopping,
Johnson Tsang

Open Mind 3, Johnson Tsang

Open Mind series,
Johnson Tsang
At the beginning of his new life, Tsang felt that he had wasted 13 years when he wasn’t exploring art. Then, years later, he began seeing things hiding in his works--influences that likely originated from his time in law enforcement. During that time Tsang had served in many departments in the police force—the tactical unit, an emergency unit, the special duty squad, anti-drug duties, and traffic accident investigation. He saw a lot of the dark side of the city and humanity itself. What affected him most were the fatality cases. He recalls people being stabbed and killed by gangsters, a 6-year-old girl who was murdered by her maid, an 11-year-old girl who watched her younger brother die under the tire of a double-decker bus. Tsang saw the faces of people who lost their lives in fatal car accidents. Today, he looks upon his years as a police office not as being "lost," but as playing an important role in his creative processes.

Open Mind 5, Johnson Tsang

Looks just like him...


1 comment:

  1. Marvelous introduction to this artist. Great craftsman and artist.