SIGNED magazine #29

22 To conserve cultural legacy, the old must first be preserved. To revive, the old must be reinterpreted in a new way. KCG reinterprets heritage conservation by innovating. It injects new meaning and builds a new image for traditional Chinese craftsmanship by making it practical, vogueish and international. The Board Member of KCG Ms Charlene Mo said, "Our overarching direction 'Chinese is Cool' uses simple words to convey deep meanings. It is about traditional culture, as much as it is about the design and creativity of the new generation. It covers fashion, architecture, or even the immensely popular rap music. These art forms comprise both Chinese elements and Western interpretations. Traditional crafts are enlivened when they become part of modern living. We are very selective with the crafts we work on and there are eight on our current list, namely Guangcai, hundred-treasures inlay (Baibaoqian), mother of pearl inlay (Luodian), gilt decoration, plaster moulding, wooden architecture, cut-silk (Kesi), and Dreams of the Red Chamber. All these have a profound impact on the art and culture of the world." KCG prides itself as a "culture artisan" and strives to conserve and revive traditional Chinese craftsmanship that may soon be lost. It works to establish a cultural ecosystem for crafts and to create social value that the public can share. Guangcai is the first craftsmanship item on KCG's list. Guangcai porcelain originated from Guangzhou. The overglazed craft is created by painting over a white primer. Belonging to the four main schools of Chinese porcelain, Guangcai is famed for its vivid colours, meticulous composition, and exquisite painting. Guangcai flourished in Qing and has been around for three centuries. The painted and gilt porcelain of Guangzhou is a marriage of the ancient colouring techniques of Ming dynasty and Western painting skills. It has preserved the Eastern characteristics of Chinese art while incorporating an exotic Western touch. In the old times, Chinese porcelain was mainly produced in Jingde before being transported to Guangzhou for export. As travelling caused lots of breakages, the process was modified such that blanks were made in Jingde, glazed in Guangzhou and exported from there. Guangcai took the European market by storm with its famous "East meets West" designs. The profound contribution to cultural exchange of Guangcai earned the overglazing technique a place on the list of China's National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008. Mo reckoned, "The art and culture of the world is undoubtedly influenced by various traditional Chinese crafts, which gave rise to the term 'Chinoiserie' in the 18th century. The artistic style refers to imaginative, novel European creations inspired by the cultures of China or East Asia. As they appreciated Chinoiserie art, Europeans had fantastical imaginations of Chinese culture and a yearning for the Chinese way of living. Chinoiserie is a fusion of uniquely eastern and western attributes. It integrates Chinese craftsmanship and Western painting style and an amalgamation of eastern and western cultures. Guangcai spread overseas at the end of the 17th century and its influence lasted for more than a century in the 18th century. Our contrastive studies of Chinese and Western techniques revealed that when Chinese skills reached Europe in the 18th century, Europeans learned and added their own thoughts, resulting in a derivative art form. Their Baroque and Rococo styles exhibit certain influence from 'Chinoiserie', because they shared very similar roots." Adrian Cheng, cultural entrepreneur 文化企業家鄭志剛 1 2 1. Western tea set decorated with Guangcai figures 廣彩人物西式茶具 2. From the Shanghai station of K11's Voyage de Savoir-Faire exhibition. 《K11工藝 遊 Voyage de Savoir-Faire》上海站現場照 片 3. A gilt-decorated blueground Guancai plate with chrysanthemum patterns. 廣彩勾金藍地百菊碟