General Introduction

The First Central China International Ceramics Biennial is a new cultural undertaking developed by Henan Museum as a signature event after three years of intensive research and all-out preparations. The event consists of one main exhibition and three parallel exhibitions, along with the International Week of Ceramics-related Films, the International Pottery Forum, and several educational activities for the public. 

The main exhibition, “Cont{r}act Earth” featured works by 42 contemporary ceramic artists/artist collectives from nearly 20 countries and regions around the world. Works explored the relationship between soil, the earth, individuals and society, and investigated the physical, tactile and visual qualities of clay. The exhibition aimed to inspire reflections and discussions on nature, industrial society and ecology. 

One of the parallel exhibitions, named “Past and Present: Selected Ancient Porcelain from Five Famous Kilns and Contemporary Innovations”, reflected upon the glory of ancient Chinese ceramic culture and showed how it has been carried on, studied and transformed in contemporary works of art. It featured exquisite items from the five famous kilns - Ru, Jun, Guan, Ge and Ding, some handed down over generations and others unearthed by archaeologists. Works were loaned from ten well-known Chinese museums and archaeology institutes. Ancient works were displayed alongside masterpieces in the styles of the five famous kilns, created by contemporary artists who have been designated as national or provincial inheritors of intangible cultural heritage. 

The second parallel exhibition, “Majolica: The Legacies of 1,000 Years of Italian Ceramics”, displayed approximately 140 ceramic works from the collection of the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza,produced between the 10th and the 20th centuries. Typical of Italian ceramics, they represent the history of majolica, its cultural implications, and the evolution of its techniques. 

The third parallel exhibition, “The Future of Vessels: Contemporary Pottery of Everyday Use”, presentedapproximately 70 groups of pottery items for daily use by contemporary artists. The exhibition aimed to celebrate craftsmanship, advocate for the fusion of art and life, and highlight the uses of pottery in daily life. 

During the International Week of Ceramics-related Films held in collaboration with Henan Film and TV Production Group, a selection of nearly 20 ceramics-related films/TV programs, both Chinese and foreign, will be shown in the museum’s multi-function room. 

An International Ceramics Forum was held for the discussion of “Ceramics+”, “Ceramics and Culture” and “Ceramics and Economics”, among other topics. It was a platform for dialogue and exchange between artists, scholars, media outlets, ceramic lovers and industrialists from at home and abroad, who discussed new ideas, techniques and developments of contemporary ceramic art. 

The ceramics-related educational program for the public consisted of history classes inside the museum and outside events held in close collaboration with schools and communities. The program aimed to arouse a wave of interest, participation and innovation in pottery-making during the ceramics biennial. 

The Central China International Ceramics Biennial is an international event that links the past, present and future, juxtaposes Chinese and foreign works, celebrates the classic and traditional while encouraging originality and innovation. It showcases advanced techniques, captures the latest issues in contemporary ceramic art, and highlights the relationship between ceramics and daily life, with a combination of artistic, academic, educational and recreational events. It offered visitors a glimpse of the current trends in international ceramics, provided a platform of exchange for Chinese and foreign ceramic artists and businesses, explored new areas for the development of traditional Chinese museums, enhances museum service, and propelled the innovation-based development of the local ceramic industry.

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