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Kwan Lan's polychrome Porcelain art

There are many excellent artists in China porcelain art circle, Kwan
Lan is one of them. She is from Taiwan.

Kwan Lan's family is originally from Yang-Jiang, Guangdong Province,
where her father was born. Famous Ling-Nan master Guan Shan-yue was
also from here. Guan Shan-yue was very close with Kwan Lan's father,
their collaboration work is very popular still today. They were so
close because they were from the same town and with the same last
name, they were as close as family (Kwan and Guan is the different
translation of same Chinese last name 關). Guan was just like Kwan Lans
uncle. She was deeply influenced by his teachings and paintings.

Kwan Lan was born in Hong Kong. She enjoys art since she was a little
girl. After graduation from high school, she went to the National
Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) and studied in the Department of Fine
Art. Her whole life is very connected to art. After NTNU, she first
started teaching art, then she set up the Ke-Shan Art Gallery in
Taipei. 20 years later she founded another gallery in Shanghai named
HaiShangShan Art Centre. She essentially contributed to the cultural
exchange between Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
After 20 years travelling between China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Kwan
Lan is very knowledgeable about traditional craft art, whereas in the
recent years she specially developed an affection for porcelain.

Porcelain is one of the earliest and most important inventions in
human history. Its history and longevity might explain Chinese's
fondness for porcelain.

The brothers Ju Chao and Ju Lian have set up the Ke-Shan School. Their
students Gao Jian-Fu, Gao Qi-Feng and Chen Shu-Ren created Ling-Nan
School. Guan Shan-yue and Li Xiong-Cai further developed the Ling-Nan
School to be an important school in Chinese art. All of the above were
fond of Chinese porcelain art.

Ling-Nan School - Gao Jian-Fu, Gao Qi-Feng and Chen Shu-Ren were
called "two Gao one Chen", they established a 博物館商會美術瓷窯, mainly
supporting 廣彩瓷porcelain development. Their students Zhao Shao-Ang,
Yang Shan-Shen also followed them and started porcelain creations. Gao
Jian-Fu wrote a 中國瓷業大王計劃書 to show it to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. Until now Gao
Jian-Fu Art Gallery in Guangzhou Museum of Art still keeps his
porcelain artwork.

Kwan Lan's father Kwan Po-Men, as an important inheritor of Ke-Shan
and the Ling-Nan School was fond of porcelain as well. Kwan Lan and
her father have visited the famous pottery city of Taiwan, Ying-Ge
several times. Kwan Lan still preserves the vases painted by her
father. Her father influenced her heavily in regards to porcelain

By coincidence Kwan Lan has learned about Under-glazed Wu-Cai
(colored) porcelain and visited Li-Ling, the pristine town of
Under-glazed porcelain in Hunan province. Kwan Lan was deeply
impressed by the Li-Ling porcelain, renowned for being as white as
jade, as thin as paper, as bright as mirror and sounding like a chime.

Under-glazed Wu-Cai (colored) technique means to put color under the
glaze. Due to the fact that the glaze of the porcelain is extremely
hard, the color underneath will exist forever. The glaze makes the
surface shining and splendid. Li-Ling Under-glazed porcelain is
popular nowadays not only for its fresh and elegant look, but also
because - unlike some other varieties of porcelain - it contains no
harmful traces of lead or cadmium. Being environmentally-friendly,
Li-Ling Under-glazed porcelain is said to represent the "peak of
mandarin porcelain art". Li-Ling under-glazed porcelain is often
presented as gifts to foreign leaders, earning it the nickname
"national porcelain". A lot of professional art lovers in Hong Kong
and Taiwan also collect Li-Ling Under-glazed porcelain. Wu-Cai
(literally translated “five colors”) means plenty of colors. Because
of multiple choices of colors, there are huge opportunities to create
paintings on porcelain.

Nevertheless the road of Kwan Lan’s new exploring was not always
smooth. The reason was the special technique of producing Under-glazed
Wu-Cai porcelain. Under-glazed Wu-Cai technique means to burn the
colored un-glazed porcelain in 1370 degree in kilns. In this process
the high temperature and complicated chemical effects change the
colors. Due to this, their effect on the final porcelain may be far
from the original idea of the artist. For example the color yellow may
vanish after being burned with 1370 degree. Black is just the
opposite, after 1370 degree it turns stronger and deeper. If black
mixes with other colors, it will make the result look dirty. Kwan Lan
works closely with industrial artists with whom she solved a lot of
problems together. Now she controls the colors according to her will.
Kwan Lan pays great efforts to control these difficult colors such as
yellow. blue-grey, purple and ruby-red. At the end, these became her
favorite colors.

Painting on porcelain is different from painting on paper. Porcelain
is usually three-dimensional and the shapes of porcelain are various.
It is always important for artists to decide which vase goes with
which theme. Therefore the unique prospect of an artist shows by how
to enhance the beauty of the porcelain with the painting. Kwan Lan
combines transitional brushes and modern aesthetics to her creation.
She uses colors with passion and creativity, giving her brush strokes
structure, solidity and durability. Her works show the perfect synergy
of porcelain and paintings. They are one plus one but more than two.

Under-glazed coloring is much more difficult than over-glazed
coloring. With under-glazed coloring, the color works directly on the
greenware. The clay absorbs the water of the colors. Thus, the speed
of strokes needs to be even. Moving to slow, the color will be gone
before finishing the lines. Moving to fast, the lines will break in
between after burning. Kwan Lan tried many ways until she mastered the
required technique.

Kwan Lan carries on her father's painting style in her porcelain
artwork by focusing on color-changes, controlling the painting
structure and refining the subject-shaping.

Talking about painting structure, vases are three-dimensional and with
various shapes unlike paper paintings. For example, the shape of
Guan-Yin vases is long and round, it is easily to show the scene.

Saucers, plates, porcelain plaque are similar to paper; they are
easier to paint on. But for pots and other uncommon shapes, it
requires higher technique and aesthetic standard. I have seen one
small pot painted by Kwan Lan. The beautiful forsizia climbing from
the spout of the teapot to the lid shows the colors and vitality of
the real flower and its sharp and simple structure. Everyone who sees
this pot cannot tear himself away from it. Kwan Lan has painted a set
of chinese stationary. Penholder and paperweight are both easy to
handle. But a mountain shaped pen rack is tricky. Kwan Lan casually
draws several leaves, and in between the mountains you can see the
wings of butterflies. This is surprising the observer and beautifully
Kwan Lan also draws birds, butterflies, bees and fishes accurately. I
assume it is from her excellent training at the NTNU being one of the
top universities in Taiwan, especially Department of Fine Art. It is
the most famous in Taiwan Fine Art area and only accepts the best
students. Kwan Lan studied under famous professors such Lin Yu-Shan,
Luo Fang and Liang Shiow-Chung. Combined with her father's teaching,
she knows the proportions precisely and understands how animals move.
The little living beings in her hand are natural, lovely and full of

Kwan Lan specially focuses on butterflies. She catches the sudden
moment when butterflies fly away. While flying, wings of butterflies
were bent and twisted from the wind. Though we don't see the wind
breezes in the paintings, but we can feel it by looking at the
butterflies' wings.

When it comes to fishes, it is different. Fishes live under the water,
water reflectes light. The image through water is basically a
visionary world. Water is stirred by the fins of swimming fishes.Thus,
the stirring water and reflecting light make the fishes vision-wise
broken. Kwan Lan draws the fishes accordingly, she gives the vivid
feeling to the fishes. Art is from life but much higher than life.

Kwan Lan is very sensitive in observing the world and trends. This
leads her to explore new things with courage. 1988 she established the
Ke-Shan Art Gallery in Taipei. Already those days, she had a wider
vision than other gallery owners in Taiwan. Ke-Shan Art Gallery is
well-known as the first messenger in between the Taiwan Strait. From
1988, she held exhibitions at Ke-Shan Art Gallery such as "Ling-Nan
four masters - Zhao Shao-Ang, Li Xiong-Cai, Guan Shan-Yue and Yang
Shan-Shen", "Wu Guan-Zhong solo exhibition" and "Prized artwork of 8th
National Art Exhibition" which were the base of the gallery's

Beginning of twenty century, she held the exhibition
"新境*心镜----海峡两岸水墨艺术家联展", "海上有山----台湾当代水墨名家邀请展", "台湾师
HaiShangShan Art Centre
with which she added great contribution to modern Chinese art

Her passion for porcelain is reflected in several outstanding
exhibitions related to porcelain, ceramic and pottery which she

organized, such as "釉光土情*新加坡陶艺家六人展", "上海陶瓷艺术博览会".

Because of her excitement for Under-glazed Wu-Cai porcelain, she
started her journey of drawing and painting porcelain in Li-Ling. She
overcame difficulties and persistently brings porcelain art to
perfection as a simple and pure art. She also made friends with
professional artists, collectors and porcelain-lovers, who know about
porcelain technique and appreciate Kwan Lan's effort, because they
understand the passion, but also difficulties and hard work resulting
in these beautiful art pieces.

Kwan Lan is truly an artist who does serious culture exchange in
Li-Ling. In her, we saw academic rigor, strict attitude and brilliant