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About Cao Yong's Potteries

In March 2010, as soon as Cao Yong returned from the America after participating an art show, he traveled to Jingdezhen, the porcelain captical of China. He had been looking for a new media that could represent his art, a completely new texture beyond what can be carried by paint and canvas. This idea had been brewing inside of him for a long time, as he often lost in his deep thoughts in front of his own portrait. That is a process of talking to himself and going beyond himself. To an artist who considers painting as his entire life, he could never be satisfied by holding on what he already has. Continuous discovery, continuous searching, continuous creation is the highest form of art. What can he use to connect the beauty of the East and the West? What can he use to carry the closest sensation between the traditional craft and art? He thought about porcelain, the product that could represent Chinese culture the most. The word China has already become a pun that makes the country China inseparable from the porcelain products.

As early as Eastern Han Dynasty (23A.D.220A.D.) there were porcelain products appeared in China that were different from the primitive ceramics. Being the Capital of Porcelain, Jingdezhen has a long history of producing fine porcelains. The products there have beautiful forms, great varieties, rich decorations, and unique styles. Jingdezhen porcelain has become known internationally for being as white as jade, as bright as a mirror, as thin as paper, and as sound as a bell." Since Yuan Dynasty, Jingdezhen porcelain production applied binary recipe with China stone and Kaolin, increased the firing temperature, produced porcelain product with jade bone and ice flesh and the skin color of a beauty. Especially with the successful creation of Blue & White Porcelain, Under Glaze Red Porcelain, Blue, White and Under Glaze Red Porcelain, the making of porcelains in human history had entered a new era. During that time Jingdezhen produced the largest amount and the most influential porcelain products with delicacy and exquisite craftsmanship that no one else could top. People from afar started to know China through the porcelain products, thus China became the name of the country.

After arriving at Jingdezhen, Cao Yong visited many ancient kilns, and started to understand the entire production process from throwing biscuits to firing. Watching a muddy water like slurry glazed on a pot, one can never imagine what color would appear after the pot is being fired, neither can he imagine if he paints something on a clay pot, what effect it would have when the pot is taken out of the kiln. Finally, he decided to use Jingdezhens most traditional Blue & White Porcelain and Blue, White and Under Glaze Red Porcelain to carry out his arts.

Blue and White Porcelain is one of the most excellent porcelains in China. The materials made for this kind of porcelain is very unique. In the history of porcelain making over thousands of years in Jingdezhen, pure Blue and White Porcelain is the most representative. From the delicate and exquisite Blue and White Porcelain made from kilns administrated by the government in the imperial dynasties to the one piece named Yuan Dynasty Blue and White Devil Coming Down the Hill Pot that was auctioned for the equivalent of RMB 230,000,000 yuan at Chirsties in London, UK in July 12, 2005, from the ancient time to today, from the royal to the regular society, Blue and White Porcelain has always been sought after. It not only represents the Jingdezhen traditional porcelain making, it also proves itself to be the eternal original material for porcelain after thousands of years of development. It provides a foundation for rich artistic representation, and it needs to be fired at high temperature after being glazed. Its color never fades, it is eternal. In addition, Blue and White Porcelain can present an artists artistic level. The most difficult thing of using this material is that the artist can only use blue and white color to render rich contents and layers.

Avalon Bay, Catalina, Red Umbrella and The Wall are made by pure Blue and White Porcelain

There is a Chinese saying, the great talent is hard to bring about. If we translate from Chinese directly, that would be Its hard to make a big piece, directly from the making of porcelain pieces of Under Glaze Red. When different metal oxides are added into the glaze, fired under certain temperature and condition, they would form different colors. The principal coloring agent of the Under Glaze Red is copper oxide, fired in 1,300 degree centigrade. Since the higher the temperature, the harder to control, people call porcelain the art of fire. Only when there is right fire, right time, right weather, right kiln, a good piece can be made. Yet once it is done, it has this particular charm that its light is like floating clouds, its color is like flying glow, its grain is like waterfall. There is an ancient saying in Jingdezhen, Its hard to find one treasure piece in thousands of kilns. It means that one can only get one or two good Under Glaze Red pieces after firing tens of thousands of times. When one makes Under Glaze Red porcelain products, it is like how much paint one puts on canvas in painting, if one cannot control the fire during the firing, its very difficult to get a good piece. Either the color is gone, or there is nothing on the pot except for an empty base, or the color looks gray and dark, very ugly. The color of a real Under Glaze Red piece should have green behind the red, red looks like red jade and green looks like green jade. The most precious part is between the red and green, red with green, like jade, shine through the piece.

The Sound of Nirvana is made by Under Glaze Red

Blue, White and Under Glaze Red is based on the techniques of both Blue and White and Under Glaze Red. It combines Blue and White with cobalt oxide as coloring agent and Under Glaze Red with copper oxide as coloring agent, forming a rich decretive grains. It has the quality of Blue and White Porcelain, transparent as jade, simple and elegant; it also has the characteristics of Under Glaze Red Porcelain, rosy red and quiet, bright but not tacky, passionate but also reserved. The characters from both types of porcelain are organically joint together, creating a piece with aesthetic quality that is elegant and bright, between blue and red, with color contrast of warm and cold, and with movement yet still motion at the same time. The craftsmanship that uses both copper and cobalt color painting is also the most wonderful and gorgeous, and has the extraordinary value. Since Blue and White uses cobalt and Under Glaze Red uses copper, each requires completely different firing condition. Copper oxide evaporates at 800 degrees centigrade, yet cobalt oxide requires 1,300 degrees centigrade firing temperature. To keep both color quality of Blue & White and Under Glaze Red, it is very luck if one good piece can be produced. Thus the requirement from color matching to every production process is very strict.

Rainbow is made by Blue & White and Under Glaze Red.