Sands China is currently running a striking ceramics exhibition for Art Macao titled “Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue – An Exhibition of Ceramic Extraordinaire.”
The exhibition that is now showcased at The Venetian Macao’s main lobby is one of the special exhibitions of Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2021.
This year, Art Macao is themed “To create for well-being” with an aim to promote the SAR as a world heritage city and reshape the “humanistic spirit in the post-epidemic era.”
To resonate with the theme, Sands China’s colorful exhibition is displaying not just a group of artworks from around the globe – but artworks that tell stories of hope, resilience and diversity.
Sands China invited internationally famed artist Caroline Cheng to curate the exhibition, who called on the talents of more than 20 world-renowned ceramic artists and institutions to create works on the theme of Beyond the Blue.
The Beyond the Blue theme is faceted in meaning. While traditionally ,the exhibition’s works include a diversity of designs and palettes, showcasing how the beauty of ceramics can go beyond those two traditional colors.
Furthermore, with innovative techniques, technologies and designs, the invited artists have created pieces that go beyond all expectations and imagination, in hopes of bringing positivity to the world through art.
And finally, through this exceptional collection of works, the exhibition seeks to elicit joy and inspire visitors to go beyond the blue mood of a pandemic world with optimism for a brighter future ahead.
“This time, where the world around us is under gloom due to the pandemic, we say we’re moving beyond the blue,” said Dr. Wilfred Wong, president of Sands China Ltd.
“I believe our Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue exhibition will delight and surprise visitors as they discover that ceramics can go far beyond their expectations,” he added.
For Wong, it is the company’s sincerest pleasure to support Art Macao with this collection of imaginative and innovative ceramic artwork.
Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue showcases a total of 50 artworks, many of which are supersize, looking at the past, present and the future of ceramics.
Expanding limitless boundaries
In line with the government’s initiative of transforming Macau into a canvas through Art Macao installations across the entire city, Sands China echoes the goal of offering a “more in-depth travel experience” to visitors.
Beyond the Blue’s works combine technology and ceramics with innovative presentation, and visitors are able to interact with selected pieces via a free augmented reality (AR) smartphone app. Exhibition attendees can create their own virtual artwork or digitally insert exhibition elements into their selfies.
In this year’s biennale, one particularly interesting and unusual aspect of the exhibition is a unique parallel exhibition of Beyond the Blue with the Everson Museum of Art, which contains one of the United States’ foremost collections of ceramic art.
As a way to build on themes of interactivity and celebration, the Everson has created a real-time exhibition in the museum that can be viewed in 3D by remote visitors on their smartphones and at an interactive screen at The Venetian Macao main lobby.
Viewers are able to maneuver through the 360-degree space, while translated text and audio-video hyperlinks provide more information in English and Chinese.
In this way, the exhibition is able to make use of technology to connect people across international borders, virtually transporting Beyond the Blue visitors to the Everson, while also bringing 14 signature works from the Everson to Macau.
“This, in a way, is a cross-regional, cross-boundary exhibition – and it expands the [overall] collection,” Wong affirmed.
Curator Cheng explained the idea behind integrating the internet, digital technology and art.
“This exhibition shows how an ancient art like making ceramics can take advantage of techniques unavailable to artisans of the past to now make ingenious creations previously thought impossible,” she said.
With modern-day technologies such augmented reality and livestreaming, viewers can interact with and enjoy art in an entirely new way and connect with each other in real time regardless of geographical distance.
“We hope that, with Beyond the Blue, this interconnectedness and creativity inspires us all with hope and determination for a safe and unified post-pandemic world,” the artist added.
Call for sustainability, stories to tell
Exhibits made from recycled ceramics promoting sustainability in art are also on display with a vision to create a better world.
Every year, China produces some 18 million tons of ceramic waste.
For artist Karl Yin, the goal is to recycle that waste and redesign it as decorative ceramic sculptures that double as functional furniture.
“These artworks have stories of our history,” he says, pointing to some of his ceramic furniture work.
For him, the biennale offers a platform to send a message on a sustainable future.
“Macau is an international city. A lot of people are coming here and will look at this exhibition. It’s an honor that I can present my work because I want people to know about the lingering ceramic waste that is produced,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gu Yue spent three months creating a work that expresses his gratitude to the hard work, skills and ancient techniques of ceramic craftspeople in Jiangxi province’s Jingdezhen. His paintings on two large ceramic pots tell the story of the 72 steps required to create a piece of ceramic artwork.
“All these paintings here are scenarios of what I have experienced in Jingdezhen. This pot [shows how] people can only see the final result of an artwork but never the work that was put into it.
Integrating with the Greater Bay Area
Another element of Sands China’s support to Art Macao is the Time Is On My Side – 2021 Greater Bay Area Young Artists Scheme – A Competition of Painting & Photography.
The one-of-a-kind competition is open to young artists from Macau and the Greater Bay Area. Winners receive cash prizes and certificates to encourage them to continue their art, and their works will be displayed at The Londoner Macao.
“The national plan is to really integrate the Greater Bay Area (GBA),” said Wong.
“We feel that it is important that we embrace this concept and make good use of this opportunity [of Art Macao] to introduce international arts and artists to China, especially the GBA.”
So while the Beyond the Blue exhibition showcases established professional artists, the Time Is On My Side competition provides a platform for art enthusiasts in the GBA to interact with each other through their passion without the hindrance of the pandemic effect.
By accepting entries from throughout the GBA, the contest speaks to the idea that “GBA represents the future,” as Wong expressed.
“But the essence is now. What you do now determines what comes in the future. We felt that we should choose a theme [Beyond the Blue] that really reflects this moment and, really, people should articulate their vision of the future,” said the company president.
So just as the exhibition’s theme expresses hope for the future, the GBA art competition gives expression to future artists’ ideas and imaginations.
A ‘must-see’ exhibition
Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue – An Exhibition of Ceramic Extraordinaire is open to the public 10a.m. to 10p.m. daily until October 31.
“It is without exaggeration a must-see exhibition that has to be seen in person to fully experience the wonder of these remarkable creations,” Wong expressed on the launch day of the exhibition, July 15.
After the official opening ceremony, Cheng led guests of honor and VIPs on a personally guided tour of the exhibition, sharing her knowledge and valuable insights on the varied designs and production techniques of the works.
It is Sands China’s second time choosing ceramics as the ideal medium for its Art Macao exhibition, in consideration of Macau’s centuries-long history as a key port for porcelain export on the Maritime Silk Road.
For the inaugural Art Macao in 2019, Sands China’s “All That’s Gold Does Glitter – An Exhibition of Glamorous Ceramics” featured over 90 ceramic masterpieces from outstanding contemporary ceramic artists from 13 different countries and regions. It was the largest and highest-level ceramic art exhibition in the Greater Bay Area in 2019.
The gold-themed museum-quality exhibition was seen by over 8 million visitors.