“Researching the influence of Chinese ceramics on the European art and the tradition of copying Chinese ceramics, I am restoring and recreating stories of failing in ceramics. One of these stories – the birth of porcelain in Sung dynasty China. Porcelain, exported worldwide from the very beginning of it‘s production, attracted the attention of forgers. The best of counterfeit porcelain was produced in Delft, Holland. Before European porcelain was invented, tin-glazed technique was used to imitate it. Dutch products were not luxurious and the decorators of vases had limited skills of using the brush. The clay itself weights much more than porcelain and it’s colour is darker. Few forgers had the chance to touch the real imported pieces or turn them upside down and examine how they are made and finished. For this reason nowadays historical copies of Chinese porcelain raise viewers’ smile.
Inspired by European tradition of porcelain imitation, I started creating vases for the installation
„Plėviakojis vs Lauhan part two“. I used local clay and aimed to make it look like Chinese porcelain. This decision was important in order to achieve unity of form and contents, image and technology.
In this instalation, I interpreted historical events and stories. „Plėviakojis vs Lauhan“ is a story created entirely by me. As in all ordinary stories, there is a hero and an anti hero. Following the tradition of legends of the Far East, there is no good hero. The act takes place in the twilight, were good or bad are hard to distinguish. Plėviakojis is an overgrown tadpole living in a swamp. Sleeping during daytime, he is active during the night, when he is scares kids, rapes women and kills all the men he meets. In the swamp he is spawns and has fun. The other character Luohan is a noble buddhist monk, who had reached spiritual nirvana and can travel in space and time. Holding his sword, jumping from one planet to another, he leaves tears and death behind, looking for Plėviakojis and never finding. Thus this is a story about the fight between intelectual evil and ordinary everyday evil.
The instalation itself is made of wheel thrown vases, decorated by pencil drawings. Through fake porcelain, I am telling a story constructed of details of drawings and texts. I was inspired by meeting with Mindaugas Rasimavičius, the keeper of plant collection at Vilnius University herbarium. After this meeting the story was supplemented with local plants, such as Conium maculatum and Glyceria lithuanica. Birches and Chinese bamboo, another tradicional objects, are copied in millions all over the world. Texts which appear in the plot supplement the story, some texts are based on Lithuanian punk rock lyrics, while other part of texts create parallel story to „Plėviakojis vs Louhan“ narrative.
The idea of cycle, historical loop is important in the whole installation. Vases are thrown on the throwing weel, the drawings are placed around the vase, thus you have to turn the vase round in order to understand the whole drawing. The idea of historical space and time is important too, as is the understanding of local identity – using as if local ideas and as if foreign materials. Choosing three different periods of history I try to represent my own view of the history of ceramics, to reveal how different periods come together to create new interpretations. Through personal work, identifying historical approach, in this work I am raising questions and searching for answers”.
Rokas Dovydėnas is an interdisciplinary artist, living and working in Vilnius, Lithuania. Since 1994 exhibiting art works and since 1999 curating exhibitions. Currently, he is teaching at the University of Educology and studying at Doctoral studies of design at Vilnius Art Academy, where he researches repeating, multiplying and plagiarism in art.