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Johnson Tsang Pushes the Boundaries of Realism in his Sculptures


Johnson Tsang was born in Hong Kong in 1960 and his language is sculpting. It is the way he communicates his to the world his observations. The porcelain sculptures are about relationships. His full name is Johnson Cheung-Shing Tsang. He devotes week 50 to 60 hours to create illusionistic ceramic sculptures. He has a gamut of works ranging from lyrically beautiful to thought-provoking sculptures.

Ceramic Sculpture by Johnson Tsang
Image Credit: Johnson Tsang

Johnson Tsang was always creative, but with poor grades in school and an impoverished upbringing, he concentrated on trade work such as a potato chip fryer and as an air conditioning assistant. He took to clay modeling in 1991 while he was a policeman. The day he touched clay, it seemed friendly that he felt it soothing, and realized he found his joy and peace.

Ceramic Sculpture by Johnson Tsang
Image Credit: Johnson Tsang

Tsang’s pieces are admirable and are surrealistic representations of struggle, where a bowl liquefies splashing out from the edges and a person pulling off the face as if it was a shirt. These are pieces that make the viewers go crazy with a question. There is serenity in the delicate painting showing smooth face curves. His personification is visible in his works and Tsang pays utmost attention to ensuring his craftsmanship each piece is an endeavor capturing the vision before its creation.

Ceramic Sculpture Double Head by Johnson Tsang
Image Credit: Johnson Tsang

Tsang creates exclusively his sculptures using clay. There are sculptures in stainless steel, while he incorporates occasionally them in other materials. However, he feels a special feel when has to clay and he always is obsessed with clay that he returns to it. The material is crucial as it reveals the Openness of Tsang and allows him to display or sculpt what he feels, dreams, or sees. He says each time it is a renewed approach, very much child-like.

Tsang’s desire of sculpting organically arose from his drawing. He was drawing since he was 4 years and realized he saw the world always in 3D, while his drawing drew a limitation. It did not permit him to convey his observations in totality and was centered on reflecting what he saw. In
1991, he attended his pottery first class and was attracted by clay and its possibilities. He was already a police officer. He gave his 13 years career goodbye and turned his attention to his passion, sculpture.

Tsang won several awards including:

  • 2012 Grand Prize Taiwan Ceramics Biennale
  • Korea Gyeonggi International Cermaix 2011 special prize
  • Outstanding workmanship award by Honk Kong potters in the Teaware competition in 2007.
  • The Secretary for Home Affairs Commendation from the Hong Kong Government in 2009.
Ceramic Sculpture by Johnson Tsang
Image Credit: Johnson Tsang

Johnson Tsang opens in surreal ways through the sculptures of faces. He incorporates metaphorical materials and hand gestures like rippling water and growing leaves such that it conveys open-mindedness in the sculptures. Johnson Tsang porcelain sculptures are about relationships between humans and things around them.

Tsang says for everything love is the root that brings out the emotions, even fear, that is perceived as negative. Tsang is a prolific creator, is now 58 and he takes a week to complete a sculpture. Tsang develops his techniques in an instantaneous moment. He is the first artist in China to have received two international prestigious ceramics awards.

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Source: https://beinart.org/collections/johnson-tsang

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