Johnson Tsang

Surreal fantasies and lucid dreams preserved in masterfully-sculpted porcelain.

Johnson Tsang was born in 1960 in Hong Kong, where he continues to live and work.

Career

Tsang spent 13 years in the police force before beginning his career as an artist. To this day the memories from these years provide inspiration for his uncanny, serene-yet-sinister sculptures.

Did you know?

In 1983, the artist founded Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong, now one of the city's most established galleries. In 2009 he received The Secretary for Home Affairs' Commendation on account of his widespread and enduring international success.

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Collaborations with this artist

Practice overview

Johnson Tsang’s surreal porcelain sculptures balance illusionary compositions with hyperreal aesthetics. Despite their delicate craftsmanship, they depict grotesque scenarios: a human face twisted like a wet towel; a fed-up newborn trapped inside a birdcage; or stacks of human heads squashed inside glass cabinets. Half cherub, half Buddha, the artist’s bulbous figures have an amusing fleshiness. While Tsang’s work recalls aesthetics from across art history, such as Chinese ceramics and Neo-classical sculpture, the self-taught artist predominantly draws from personal experience and his intense, bizarre dreams. In his waking life these are given in physical existence via his art.

Throughout Tsang’s practice, a tragic sense of humour surfaces in political satire including a figurine of Donald Trump and piles of baby heads on top of a Chinese flag. Security Summit (2015), is a particularly potent work: seven porcelain babies sit in a circle ridiculing one naked baby in the middle, a cherub. The figures around the edge are dressed in army uniforms, casually holding machine guns, while the humiliated cherub holds a measly bow and arrow. The explicit cruelty in the scene and stark inequality of power — along with the macabre humour of babies with machine guns — criticises the political notion of ‘security’ itself and undermines those who hold the power to act in its name. Tsang’s tender and unusual work has a powerful ability to distil complex subjects, thoughts and emotions into calm, arresting beauty.

"Art changed the way I observed things happening around me."Johnson Tsang