“Beauty overcomes differences. Sharing fosters growth.”
The name ZhenXi in Chinese means ‘act with love, devote your heart to something’. It is clear from the work in this exhibition that the two artists, Li Zhen and Xi Meng – the Chinese name of Simone Haak – are infused with this sentiment.
Simone, who together with Joka Doedens is the founder and owner of Terra Delft Gallery, met Li Zhen in 2012. He was working, among other things, as an assistant to the six artists who spend an artist-in-residence period in the Sanbao Ceramic Work Center. Originally from the province of Shandong and trained as a painter at the Ceramic Art University in Jingdezhen, he learned wheel throwing in his spare time in Sanbao, and opened his own studio just one year later.
In both 2014 and 2015 the two met each other again. Li Zhen first still worked as an assistant, but gradually they formed the idea to work together. They decided to share their experience, knowledge, and ideas in order to create better products for the market: no longer the common practice of a Western design which is realized by a Chinese craftsperson, but each with an equal role. They conceive, design, decide, and produce together. Simone and Li Zhen now meet each other annually, both in China and the Netherlands.
Cups, bowls, teapots, plates, and boxes, always in blue, green, and grey. One throws, the other trims. Both artists decorate. Sometimes colored clay is used, sometimes colored slip. Stoneware and porcelain in China, predominantly earthenware in the Netherlands. Simone glazes the pieces, either entirely or only partially, which results in an aesthetically-pleasing object.