Artist: Luyuan Zhang
Materials: 2.5cm x 20.5cm x 167cm
Dimensions: Earthenware, underglaze, clear glaze
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Luyuan Zhang is a Chinese multidisciplinary artist based in Melbourne. Born in 1995 in China, moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2014. Behind the deadpan performance in the video and the slapstick humour of the installation, Luyuan’s work reflects a period of time in the artist’s life of displacement.
Excerpt from a conversation between Luyuan & Suite7a
when and why did you start making ceramics?
usually I make video and installation works, criticising on the contemporary art scene and social structures in western society from a poc point of view.
The first time I made ceramic works was in 2018 i think. My mom and I have always had a very complicated relationship, when i was in china and living with my parents we often have fights verbally or even physically, and each fights always end up me being the one trying to be reasonable and comfort her out of her anger.
In my memory theres only a few happy moment. One time we were in a shopping centre and we walked past a pottery workshop, it was like a family activity kinda vibe, parents and children making clay pots together on the wheel. It was the first time I saw my mom being happy and suggesting we take the class to make pottery together. it never happened in the end, and the last time I went back to china which was 2018 that pottery workshop closed down. i was really excited about the idea of ceramics, as a medium, and its connection with my mom. when I flew back to melbourne I started to make ceramics on the side, hoping it will be a way for my mom to understand my art practice.
It wasn’t very serious at the time, more like exploring and playing with clay. it wasn't until covid started that I shifted more of my attention to clay works. As i said before my works are rather cynical, integrated with social issues and pain, but during lockdown it was too much for me to focus on that. in 2020 i was doing my fine art honours in Monash and all the connection we had were the zoom calls. I just desperately wanted something more tangible. everyone was vomiting thoughts on social media platforms and digital works felt like a headache. installations are impossible to realise in a small rental shared house, I just wanted to make works that i could touch and get away with having to face the screen.
now, i felt like maybe it’s time to show these ceramic works I’ve made, works that shows almost an opposing side of my main practice. No hate, just love and healing for the pain.
Like the process clams turning gravel into pearls.
what inspired this body of work?
anime and japanese contemporary anime art culture.
Friends and encounters that have supported me through out my countless mental breakdowns, people who are more vocal about their pain and loneliness.