Born in 1973 in Shaanxi (China), Li Xin lives and works in France and China. His painted oeuvre presents the perfect synthesis of a great landscape-painting tradition and the contemporary impossibility of monochromatic creation. Influenced by the great Yellow River near which he was born, his paintings and ink drawings celebrate at once the power and delicacy of water, immersing us within a space of contemplative meditation, in suspension at the edge of the sky and Earth. For the Manufacture de Sèvres, Li Xin has invented new forms of porcelain paintings and painted sculptures, composing an ensemble of eighteen one-of-a-kind works.
“When I first touched porcelain and found myself before the white ceramic slab, already I found it perfectly beautiful. This virgin surface contained so much imagination and energy. How might I add a few grams of pigment to translate my immediate feelings and emotions? I hoped to avoid creating an overly intellectual, technical or conceptual series. I come from a country with an ancient tradition of ceramic creation, boasting so many lovely works. Up until now, all colours were used except grey, though this same colour is often to be found in traditional Chinese landscape painting. Straddling the realms of colour and non-colour, grey invites every shade of the imagination, while also having a spontaneous calming effect. On paper, the grey of the ash-based ink manages to emerge from the nature of landscapes – and the same must occur on the porcelain slabs, so that the traces left by the firing process express the essence of the cinder-born material.”
Li Xin on his 2017 Sèvres creations
For the transposition onto porcelain of Li Xin’s particularly subtle style of painting, a close collaboration was forged between the artist and the Manufacture’s artisans. Surface studies were carried out first and foremost, eventually producing porcelain slabs coated with a semi-mat enamel to best duplicate the paper used by the artist for his paintings. Research then focused on design, with an initial dark grey allowing for the creation of “smoky” undulations. To finalize the motif, the painting process transparently reveals the gradations and diffusion of grey, as though the pigments were applied to wet paper. So-called “low-fire colours” are utilized, mixtures of different Manufacture blacks.