Anxious Thoughts and Dreams Occupy the Minds of Johnson Tsang’s Porcelain Figures
March 9, 2023
Through contorted figures, Johnson Tsang continues to stretch the limits of human consciousness as he blurs the boundary between the real and surreal. The Hong Kong-based artist has spent decades sculpting works in ceramic and steel that explore the liminal and invisible, making thoughts and emotions tangible through minimal forms in white porcelain. Vacillating between the calming and disconcerting, Tsang’s works convey many of the relatable anxieties and coping mechanisms that occupy the contemporary mind.
The artist’s Lucid Dream series frequently presents facial features as cushions with “Comfort Zone” and “Impressed” both featuring slumbering figures squashing the nose and forehead. Other works in the collection are more unsettling and use rubble, duplicates, and aggressive hands to warp the forms. The sculptures reflect Tsang’s own pursuit of spiritual growth and recognize the need to “stop the inner war and face everything that happens with peace.”
This sentiment of acceptance and calm dramatically changed for the artist after he suffered a stroke in January 2022. Following brain surgery, a ten-day coma, and extensive recovery to regain mobility and speech, he’s begun to speak about his health and desire to move forward. He shares with Colossal:
When asked how I am doing, I will playfully answer: ‘I’ve been very busy recently. I’m concentrating on creating a new work, which is my body and my life.’ That means, I’m a sculptor and become the clay that I’m sculpting… I just started a different journey, and embarking on this adventure is actually exciting and full of expectations because I know this particular experience comes only once and I must cherish it. I believe in life. Life is based on love, designed with wisdom, and allows us to grow through experience, so there is always a deeper meaning behind everything, and always with love and kindness —even if it seems not, like (with) a stroke.
Tsang postponed two exhibitions set for last year and is currently easing back into his practice. You can find more of his work and follow his progress on Instagram.
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