exhibition: Jayanto Damanik Tan – Journeys

Jayanto Damanik Tan – Journeys

Showing at: Kensington Contemporary

From 19-01-2017 until 12-02-2017


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Nicky Ginsberg, President of the Chippendale Creative Precinct, is excited to present a selection of Jayanto Damanik Tan’s precious and deeply personal works at Kensington Contemporary. ‘Journeys’ is a heartfelt collection of Tan’s latest thoughtful creations, which he has dedicated to his late mother and sister. His work can be viewed as a type of visual storytelling, where his experiences are re-animated through his vibrant and reflective sculptures.

As a child of diaspora, Tan’s work is inspired by his experiences as a Chinese-Indonesian Australian. Tan interrogates themes of racism, poverty, corruption and social injustice.

His series of ceramic bowls are symbolic vessels with multifaceted meanings. They are reminiscent of the boat his grandfather came on from China to Indonesia many moons ago, and also symbolise the act of sharing and offering food.

However complex and dark these themes are, Tan’s bright memories of his family prevail. His ‘Red Jellies’ series sits close to his heart, and is a tribute to his mother’s festive cooking. The Chinese characters on each jelly symbolise longevity, and the colour red is considered to bring luck and good fortune.

A key fascination which Jayanto finds central to his creative process is finding joy in the act of touch. Tangibility and somatic sensation are incredibly important experiences through which the artist continually re-discovers the meditative and transformative nature of the clay with which he works. Tan’s delicate gestures in clay are complemented by the bold pigments of his underglazes. Loud statements in colour deliver personal expression of identity and pride to the viewer, and culminate in the celebration of liberated identity and creative freedom.

Tan currently studies ceramics at the National Art School, Darlinghurst. He is also a graduate from the Sydney Gallery School of Fine Arts. His works have gained recognition at a number of public festivals and art prizes both in Australia and internationally, including the Chippendale New World Art Prize. Tan has recently completed a prestigious residency program in Red Gate Beijing, China.

Working from memory, Tan’s craft allows him to make sense of past events and their bittersweet reality, fading over time. For Tan, “It’s about the feeling, not the result.”


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