If ever there were a perfect match between an artist’s medium and subject matter, it is in Shimo’s blue-and-white porcelains decorated with lotus flowers. An iconic symbol in Buddhism, the lotus springs forth pristinely white from the bottom of the murky pond in which it grows, suggesting the holiness of the Buddhist doctrine and the purity of the devotee. The same is true of the porcelain itself, which comes from a dwindling deposit in Jingdezhen, in Shimo’s native China. Beautifully translucent, it is the perfect ground for representing not only the lotus and others types of flowers, but landscapes and figures—all unions of history and modernity, East and West.
Shimo pursued formal training at the Art College of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing, studying oil and set painting for four years and receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1983. He next went to Shenzhen to serve as the vice-chairman of the Art Research Institute of Shenzhen and then as editor of Art Collection magazine. But Shimo missed painting and, with the new century, returned to it, obtaining a master’s degree at the Shanghai University Art Institute in 2003. Since then, he has divided his time between Shanghai and Sacramento.
Shimo has worked in porcelain for just seven years, and only in the past four has he felt a mastery over his medium and approach. He begins by throwing his large vessels on the wheel, working diligently to achieve grace, size, and thinness. His modernist shapes include gravity-defying closed forms, spheres with long necks, and cylinders with broad shoulders or wide rims. Blue-and-white decoration encircles these, and bold, non-representational passages blend with recognizable motifs. Shimo has often said that he aims to “combine ancient traditions with a contemporary spirit” and, in a metaphor appropriate to his porcelains, “to melt the national aesthetics of Eastern and Western art in one furnace.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color catalogue and is made possible in part by a grant from SMAC.