Sunday, September 8, 2013
Chinese alchemy is based on the life force Qi, the interaction between body and spirit, the continuation of life. The artist Ruudt Peters wanted to get an understanding of this legacy and left Holland for a journey through China that was to last three months.
During his travels he visited the terracotta army of emperor Jing Di, comparable with the better known army of China's first emperor, only with figures half as tall and more damaged by the ravages of time. He was struck by what he saw: the futile efforts to display power and shield a dead ruler. This was the opposite of what had brought Peters to this part of the world. So during his stay at the Chinese European Art Centre in Xiamen, he decided to create a his own army, made from porcelain and based on the Chinese Alchemistic tradition. His starting point was the idealized Chinese acupuncture-man, but he modified him into a model defined by a western lifestyle and the passing of time. Before the figures went into the furnace, he individualized each one by altering surfaces and adding or removing segments and details. Later on in Amsterdam, he attached al sorts of elements made of silver, iron, glass, or horse hair. Peters three months sojourn in China is now symbolized by 99 china men. An army celebrating life.
Each day during his trip Peters made a blind drawing: a pillow on his lap, drawing pad on top, sketching with eyes closed. They became the logbook of his experiences, of his mental and physical reactions. Gradually human faces started to emerge in the drawings. Who's features became visible? Was it someone from the East or the West, or perhaps the alter ego of the artist? Eventually these portraits provided the starting point for a collection of jewellery pieces. Fragments from Peters' drawings were laser-cut in Xiamen from semi-translucent slices of agate. He assembled them into brooches and necklaces and applied silver lines on both front- and backsides. In doing so, he merged European and Chinese conventions, seeking an interaction between deliberately, and subconsciously made sketches. The outcome is a portrayal of the experiences of a researching, searching artist.
(© Galerie Rob Koudijs)