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Art Watch : Tsang Johnson

Tsang Jonson is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

An artist who can be appropriately described as a ceramicist-sculptor Johnson Tsang’s latest series “Lucid Dreams” (as of Oct. 2016) takes myriad emotions, ranging from the grotesque to romantic, to a innocent wonderment. A new philosophy of touch and sensuality, sees Tsang moving away from the alienating and uncanny towards invitation and tactility. The ‘grotesque’ babies are all grown up. And Tsang invites you to experience their adult-emotions through this new body of work.

But there is much more to Tsang Johnson. Born in Hong Kong in 1960, Johnson says that when he was four years old, he began with doing an impression of a clock that he saw in his grandmother’s house. That, he identifies as the beginning for his love for art. It was the chosen mode of self-expression for him. Because he started to draw before he learnt to write – the communicative possibilities of art blossomed successfully within him.

Why Tsang Johnson?

The artist would love to embellish and draw in the spaces in the text books where words were not printed. It was a way of relating to a void – a space where things were felt and not necessarily voiced. Johnson says that he is naturally reticent. But he is fascinated by the world of expressions. And how it is an inherent, powerful and equalising language that has been in use for   centuries.

His area of specialization is in working with ceramics and metal sculpture. The delicacy of the material invests his work with a special sensitivity. Tsang, through his work, pushes the boundaries of the viewer’s imagination. His works integrate two elements: ‘human beings’ and ‘objects’, depicting in turns – the whimsical, the lyrical, and the provocative. It is important to note that for this artist – he has developed a great friendship with the quiet depths of his own mind. And he comes from a place of great equanimity. Where he is able to put different aspects of nature- desirable or otherwise, without judgement, only as an observer.

“And finally its all related to the word ‘Love’. To me, the word ‘Love’ doesn’t only represent pretty things. Love is the combination of all our positive and negative feelings and emotions. Hate and fear are not the absence of love. They are just elements of it.” Says the artist

Artistic Journey

Tsang employs realist sculptural techniques along with surrealist imagination. In 2002, he started to represent versatile splashes with ceramics. He created the Yuanyang series, which were then collected by the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Yingge Ceramics Museum of Taiwan.

Tsang Johnson continues to develop his techniques. During the past decade, in capturing the instantaneous moment of splashes with exquisite white porcelain. In 2011 and 2012, Tsang’s works, “Bowls of Fantasy” and “Splash of Wonder”, were awarded the Special Prize of Korea Gyeonggi International Ceramix Biennale 2011 International Competition. And Grand Prize of 2012 Taiwan International Ceramics Biennale respectively. Tsang is the first Chinese artist to have received both of these two prestigious international ceramics awards.

Since 1993, Tsang’s works have been exhibited in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Spain and Switzerland. And collected by local and overseas museums and collectors. Tsang has worked on several public art projects since 2004. He has been commissioned by a number of private and public organizations.

Disarmingly humble, this artist who has been felicitated with several honours says – “I am non-religious but a new age thinker. I do wish to make a better world. Somehow, I couldn’t find a better way to do this as I am not good at any other territory. Thankfully I found art”. Says the artist who has been practicing meditation for nearly as long as he has been practicing art. 

Tsang received “The Secretary for Home Affairs’ Commendation” from the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for outstanding achievements in international art events in 2009. Tsang has been appointed as the Expert Adviser of the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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