Cheung Tsz-man, Kuby
What are your views on art?
I am not preoccupied with art or a certain medium. On the contrary, I wish to acquire knowledge from different disciplines, therefore I studied anthropology and Chinese literature besides fine arts. I believe that contemporary art is inclusive in nature. Artists introduce new values and ideas through their works for the audience to experience and communicate with the world. Art is also a mirror that reflects oneself and the society.
I used to be goal-oriented and chased after achievements in art. However, I now abandon these constraints. I do not create for the sake of creating, or put too much emphasis on the outcome, which allows my mentality to become freer and purer. I hope my works are meaningful and full of surprises.
How do ceramics and dance influence you?
Dance is about muscle memory and expression of one’s thoughts through body language, which is relatively abstract to me. The release of emotions through dance is in fact slower when compared to ceramics. Dance practices are enormously beneficial to me as an artist, as it relies on fundamentals instead of cosmetic efforts like language or appearance. This prompted me to be just as diligent in art and truthful towards myself.
As for ceramics, I always needed time to get into focus, and this process taught me how to settle myself. I became acquainted with the master from Kaohsiung Autumn Pottery Wood Burning Kiln at a flower market in Fengshan, Taiwan. Consequently, I stayed there for over a month to study wheel-throwing, which led to the realisation that wheel-throwing, just like dancing, centres around body strength and sensation.
Have you met any mentors in your artistic journey?
I studied ceramics under the tutelage of master Chan Kam-shing at I-Kiln studio in Fo Tan for three years. He is a low-key, down-to-earth person who stays true to himself. I come away not only with technical skills from him but also his spirit and way of living. I would characterise him as my mentor in life. Through everyday conversations with him, I understand more about his views towards art and life. Art cannot be above life, as it is about life.
I often chat with photographer Siu Wai-hang, a fellow JCCAC tenant, who showed me how to maximise the artistic outcome by using the least effort. I was also pleasantly surprised that Rosanna Li, a renowned ceramicist, contacted me after seeing my work and continues to give me encouragement.
What is your source of inspiration?
My creations are mainly inspired by words, which I also rely on to elucidate and express my feelings. For example, my graduation work Floating was inspired by Marvels of a Floating City, written by novelist Xi Xi. The state of a floating city hovering above ground reflected my feelings at the time, and the image of rocks smashing ceramics alludes to craftsmanship being challenged, plus a desire to break with tradition and go for contemporary.
Ceramics installation | 2022
Can you tell us more about “Crystallized Order”, your upcoming exhibition at PMQ?
Inspiration for this exhibition comes from Jenga and stacked stones, which resemble how a new social order is established after the existing one is toppled. I found my own order through the continuous process of stacking, and decided to capture it with my works. The key to stone balancing lies in gravity, and the same concept of striving for balance applies to my daily life. Equilibrium may occur only for an instant. When the external order and system misalign with what is inside, how can we build our inner fortitude or create a new order? This is something that I have been contemplating.
The works are created with clay instead of wood because, just like water, it does not have a particular form, as such I am free to shape the “order” I desire. I did not colour them in order to create a sense of distance, setting them apart from the colourful objects we see every day, as a way to present the “invisibleness” of order and system.
Ceramics installation | 2022
Which work do you find the most memorable?
I am very moved by Antony Gormley’s Asian Field at M+ museum. It embraces all the three significant levels in art – public engagement, cultural vision / historical context, and revelation of the epoch. In my opinion, a great work is something that should be understandable to all. Not only does it touch people’s hearts, it also nourish our lives and connect with society.
Any expectations or plans in the future?
In recent years, learning ceramics has become trendy and many ceramic workshops have sprung up, with some becoming rather commercialised and pedestrian in what they teach. Through education and conversation, I wish to counteract the rapid horizontal development by facilitating the public to delve deeper into understanding the potential of this art practice.