“In China, ancient ceramics tell long tales,” says Li Xiaofeng. And there’s certainly no shortage of storytelling material in this artist’s trademark pieces, spectacular dresses and suits sculpted from shards of broken porcelain, meticulously rearranged.
Although he originally trained as a muralist, Li Xiaofeng had long been drawn to ceramics and, over the years, built up a significant collection of ancient fragments dating from the Song, Ming, Yuan and Qing dynasties. From the early 2000s, these shards began to take shape as wearable garments, the pieces held together with silver wire using a technique that recalls the jade burial suits of the Han Dynasty. These “rearranged landscapes,” as the artist calls them, are much more than items of clothing, however: they represent China’s most precious memories, expressed through the fusion of ancient and contemporary visual languages.
Ocean Travels (2008) is an outstanding piece, a jacket created using shards of Ming dynasty porcelain. Its distinctive blue tones traditionally symbolise energy and vitality, contrasting beautifully with the red and green shades of the necktie; the title, meanwhile, invites viewers on an imaginative journey, riding the delicate waves depicted in the original fragments.
As Li Xiaofeng explains, he is “looking for the relationship and the dialogue between the body and the shards. Both have to be compatible. Big or small, the shards must suit the form.” This approach is clearly illustrated by his 2016 piece, Past Presence 1, which also forms part of Colección SOLO. With the arrival of Ocean Travels, this elegant, figure-hugging dress has found the ideal partner.