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The hybrid sculptures of Brendan Lee Tang

We are proud to introduce you the fanTANGstic cocktail of Irish artist Brendan Lee Tang: in a glass pour some generous doses of Asian ceramic culture, western pop icons, blinding colors, manga aesthetics, kitsch references and, last but not least, a huge amount of craziness and creativity and you will finally enter Brendan’s magical world. Brendan Tang was born in Dublin, Ireland, of Trinidadian parents and is a naturalized citizen of Canada.

For his exuberant creations he is deeply inspired by the idea of transformation and inter-cultural exchanges and interpretations. "I'm kind of playing with looking at how history is really malleable and how it can really shift. We almost think that history is this kind of static story that's unchanging, but it's not.” says Brendan.  And it’s true that static is not a word that you would use in order to describe his creations. On the contrary, Tang’s work leave you quite overwhelmed, without being sure what exactly is that you are looking at but still finding it totally attractive. Let’s take a closer look.

In his Manga Ormolu series Tang enters the dialogue on contemporary culture, technology and globalization through a fabricated relationship between ceramic tradition (using the form of Chinese Ming dynasty vessels) and techno-Pop Art. The futuristic update of the Ming vessels in this series recalls 18th century French gilded ormolu, where historic Chinese vessels were transformed into curiosity pieces for aristocrats. But here, robotic prosthetics inspired by anime and manga subvert elitism with the accessibility of popular culture.

While Manga Ormolu offers multiple points of entry into a sociocultural dialogue, manga, by nature, doesn’t take itself too seriously. As Brendan points out, the futuristic ornamentation can be excessive, self-aggrandizing, even ridiculous. He says about it: “This is a fitting reflection of our human need to envision and translate fantastic ideas into reality; in fact, striving for transcendence is a unifying feature of human cultural history. This characteristic is reflected in the unassuming, yet utterly transformable material of clay. Manga Ormolu, through content, form and material, vividly demonstrates the conflicting and complementary forces that shape our perceptions of Ourselves and the Other. By employing satire, I create a point of access.

On the other hand, the subject matter of his Through the Gilded Looking Glass series spans self-identity, power relationships, citizen apathy, engagement and consumerism. While seemingly diverse, these works are thematically unified. He points out: “Visually, the exorbitant decoration is common to the series. Conceptually, the works demonstrate tension between beauty, and its close proximity to the un-beautiful. The vessels, then, mirror our everyday lives and our inability to shut out the uncomfortable and tragic elements of life – no amount of decoration can mask this. Through the Gilded Looking Glass is an ornamented reflection of human existence”.


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    The hybrid sculptures of Brendan Lee Tang - DesignToDesign Magazine - , The Ultimate Online design Magazine

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