Kamloops ceramic artist Brendan Tang will lecture in Art Now

Monday, February 12, 2007 - 5:00am - 6:00am
Event Location: 
Recital Hall

My artistic practice embodies the influences, tensions and contradictions that define the postmodern world. At once, my works exhibit the paradoxical tendency to be irreverent, frivolous, and playful, as well as thoroughly engaged in critical reflection. Admittedly, my aesthetic is driven by a hedonistic engagement with visual culture, yet I remain apprehensive about the all-encompassing diversions of contemporary society. Although my works are non-functional, I often employ vessel forms, or otherwise allude to incongruous functionality (e.g., 'wiring' of non-electronic parts). These apparent tensions may be particularly salient to my chosen field of ceramics, where discussions of 'art' versus 'craft' still occupy practitioners. As evidenced in my reconfiguration of historical art traditions and my use of mixed media, I am intrigued by cultural appropriation and hybridity. Undoubtedly, these predominant themes in my work are a reflection of my own ambiguous cultural identity. Although I am considered "Asian Canadian" within the dominant culture's framing, my family has lost even vestiges of connectivity to Asia through several generations of intercontinental migration and ethnic intermarriage. I have used self-portraiture to explore issues of race, class and sexual identity in greater depth. While my aesthetic is driven by seemingly manic consumption of visual culture, my work is labour intensive and detail oriented. I place high value on craftsmanship, as refinement allows me to reference art history, and notions of class and value. I employ hand painting, gold luster, airbrushing, hand-modeled filigree, and photo-based decals, among other means, to create alluring pieces. Working primarily in clay, I exploit its ability to convincingly emulate other materials, such as the "robotic" prosthetics in the Manga Ormolu series. Undeniably, working in clay offers not only satisfying technical challenges, but also vital kinesthetic connectivity to my art practice. It is perhaps unsurprising that the medium of ceramics itself conveys my work's predominant themes of identity and social hierarchies, given its ambiguous place in the art world. Through my ceramic practice, I seek to encourage a broad conception of art as an unconstrained mode of expression. 


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