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Seeing as Touch: Gao Jianfu's Revolutionary Design in Modern Canton

Seeing as Touch: Gao Jianfu's Revolutionary Design in Modern Canton
1 Devonshire Place, Room 108N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Apr 12th, 2:00 pm End: Apr 12th, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: Visual Studies (UTM), East Asian Studies (FAS), Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC), Art (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Lisa Claypool

The Asian Institute presents

Seeing as Touch: Gao Jianfu's Revolutionary Design in Modern Canton

In the early years of the Republic the revolutionary Cantonese brush-and-ink painter Gao Jianfu (1879-1951) presented Sun Yatsen, father of the Republic, with an essay in which he argued that porcelain manufacture would save the new nation. Important among Gao’s own porcelain designs was a dish painted with mantises devouring pupa, encircled by a rim ornamented with patterns of stylized fishes, flowers, and birds on a ground much like Japanese shibori tie-dyed textiles. The striking contrast of the decorative rim with the specimen-like insect depiction at the dish’s centre raises questions. How did the rim’s artificial lines mediate the naturalism of the insects to embody Gao’s radical conception of modern design – a design that was more than formal, but social and political as well? And what did it mean for the nation to see and touch insects on their patriotic porcelains? How, in short, was the dish designed and designing?

Lisa Claypool publishes widely on late imperial and Republican-era visual culture and design in China, and has curated and published a series of essays and interviews about contemporary art. She is currently at work on two projects: a book about the mediation of science through the ink brush in early 20th century China, and; an article about curatorial practices of contemporary artists in China.

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Martina Mimica
(416) 946-8996


Lisa Claypool
Associate Professor, Depertment of the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Alberta; Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery 2016-17

Jennifer Purtle
Interim Dr. David Chu Director in Asia-Pacific Studies; Associate Professor, Graduate Department of Art

Main Sponsor

Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies


Asian Institute

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