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State of the Art

All That’s Gold Does Glitter is a major exhibition of ceramics that contain a hint of gold. Melody Tsui describes 10 stand-out works to look out for at Sands China properties

The first Art Macao festival is officially in full swing and one of its most significant exhibitions, hosted by Sands China Ltd, is the most comprehensive ceramics display the region has ever seen. “All That’s Gold Does Glitter – An Exhibition of Glamorous Ceramics” showcases more than 90 museum-quality contemporary masterpieces – each featuring samples of real gold – by artists from 13 countries and regions. The exhibition is being staged across four Sands China properties until October 9. Here are 10 of the highlights: 

1. Prosperity (2019) by Caroline Cheng

Glitter, sparkles and irresistible charm are what you’ll encounter when you approach this work. This glittering garment is named Prosperity and plays on the word for clothing, which is pronounced the same in Chinese. The eye-catching and propitious golden butterflies are meant to bring blessings to visitors passing by the work. 

2. Prosperity (2016) by Caroline Cheng

The exhibition includes several versions of the Prosperity dress. This 2016 rendition is adorned with red porcelain butterflies. Likewise, the glamorous Chinese dress is dotted with beautiful thumb-sized porcelain butterflies and the style of the dress is reminiscent of a costume from a Chinese period drama. Each handmade butterfly is unique and intricate. Caroline Cheng comments on how looking from afar, outsiders see China and as a country with a homogenous population. But if you look closely, it has many complex personalities, many different cultures mixed into one large pot where each is special and unique.

3. The Fox Fur Lady (2006)  by Michael Flynn 

Turning something as static as ceramics into flowing objects is a craft in itself, however this work by Irish artists Michael Flynn offers a little more – it is a lady wearing fox fur, giving the piece an air of luxury. The lady’s golden earrings, as well as the coat, is associated with a sense of wealth. Flynn is a man of culture and humour who’s also passionate about literature. He has been creating different versions of The Fox Fur Lady over the years as an artist and the one featured in this exhibition is a great example of this period of his work.

4. Fossil Egg No. 3  (2015)  by Makoto Komatsu 

At first sight, it is easy to mistake this work for an Easter egg, and while it looks colourful and toy-like there are many undercurrents to this piece of art. The surface is covered with logos from different industrial companies around the world. Komatsu’s work aims to store and aggregate these brands into memory as over the time their products and brands disappear into history. By forming them in the shape of a fossil, they gain permanence to stand the test of time. 

5. Plum  (2019)  by Vipoo Srivilasa

This is far more than any ordinary bunny. Not only is the  adorable rabbit made with precious materials, porcelain with  gold lustre and Swarovski crystals, it also holds the double entendre of auspiciousness. Look closer and the observer sees the sculpture’s belly is a golden flower – and while flowers represent love, prosperity and fortune, gold is associated with wealth and victory. This rabbit is definitely a good-luck charm.

6. Factory (2019) by Garth Johnson 

Artist Garth Johnson enjoys playing with multiple art ideas – for example, this work combines an ordinary bottle with golden handles from fine silver pots for coffee or tea. This vessel is made of gold, porcelain and decals. The body is carefully crafted with both Eastern and Western symbols, such as a red peony flower that symbolises Chinese origin flowing from Western designed structure. With his work, Johnson intricately explores the concept of luck through both Eastern and Western symbolism.

7. Patterned Teapot with Cane Handle (2019) by John Neely 

Teapots are part of many cultures and Neely’s creation is made from special stoneware. By using gold glaze in a subtle way, this work has a jet black interior with a conventional stone colour on the outside. The artist carefully designed the glaze to create this quiet and understated piece of art. The famous pottery of Yixing is known as Purple Sand and much of Neely’s work over the last 30 years is called Black Sands.

8. Great Wave Macau, Aurora Series (2019) by Trudy Golley 

This glamorous ceramic piece by Trudy Golley is made from glazed stoneware with a 24 karat gold lustre overglaze. The stoneware wall-piece employs a clever use of light to catch your eye. The piece explores the material and immaterial worlds through the creation of a “drawing” using light and shadow. The Canadian artist said she was aiming to capture a sense of the sublime to hold viewer’s attention and trigger their imagination. 

9. The Rebirth of Tradition ½ (2019)  by Paolo Polloniato

What first catches the eye is how a sleek white glazed surface is carefully dotted with gold. This earthenware is heavenly and crafted by one of Italy’s most renowned ceramic artists. Polloniato’s family have been renowned painters and ceramicists for nine generations. Distinct from his other works, Polloniato here explores the rebirth of tradition in how the work is named. He is constantly trying out new areas for expanding the possibilities of ceramic art with creative research into materials and communication.

10. Amitabha  (2019) by Tetsuya Ishiyama

Amitabha is a Sanskrit word meaning “infinite light’’ and, as this artwork suggests, it contains a mix of gold and platinum that is capable of reflecting multiple ways. Apart from the shimmering effect, the Japanese artist also comments that art, like everything else, decays over time and hence chose a highly durable material like gold to protect the exterior. Even if the original shape is of the sculpture is damaged, it can easily be fixed by applying more gold, conveying that wealth and good luck could always be restored.