Ceramicist Xie Dong Celebrates the Ephemeral at Pagoda Ped’s Chicago Gallery

Internationally acclaimed artist Xie Dong is known for her ability to render moments of poetic movement in porcelain. The way a pillow crumples, the way fabric ripples when touched by a gentle breeze, even the way an ice cube melts—all have been elegantly realized by the artist, in fine bone china.Zie Dong at work in her Beijing studio with an upcoming Zhezhou design. Open-ended bulb coverings by Dong are ethereal and enchanting.


Born in 1967, Xie graduated from the Beijing Institute of Art and Design in 1988 and began exploring various ceramic materials and methods. Her first collection took its inspiration from a foil-wrapped chocolate bar she was eating. Enchanted by the beauty of the rippled foil, she set about trying to recreate the wrapper’s airiness and the way it played with light. She called the resulting work Zhezhou, which translates to mean “wrinkle.” Tens of one-of-a-kind ceramics lay waiting to be displayed around the world in Dong’s China workshop. Bone-white ceramic is complemented by a few snowy white tulips. Bone-white ceramic is complemented by a few snowy white tulips.


A visit to a bone china factory in Tangshan introduced her to the perfect material for her ethereal creations. The transparency and purity of the medium made it an ideal fit for her artistic vision. Organic shapes with gently bent or ruffled surfaces, crafted in translucent porcelain, became her signature. Over the years, the Beijing-based ceramicist has perfected a complex technical process that yields pieces which are ultra-delicate in appearance and terrifically strong in reality. Built from scratch, a large-scale Xie Dong work can take up to five years to produce. Her offerings include light fixtures, teacups, vases, and ceramic “pillows,” all which bring a touch of foreign beauty and grace to a Western space. What appears as crinkled paper is really ceramic in disguise. This four-person tea set is unconventional but unparalleled.


Now, Chicago-based Asian art collector and historian Betsy Nathan, owner and founder of the Pagoda Red showroom in Chicago, is bringing Dong’s bone china collections to an American market. In the past two decades, Pagoda Red has established itself as a leading source of East Asian furniture and decor after Nathan moved to Beijing in the 90s to learn Mandarin and began sourcing for her showroom. Her appreciation for Dong’s artistry and craftsmanship led Nathan to begin offering her work to buyers.

Available in the US exclusively through Chicago gallery Pagoda Red, Xie’s works explore the phenomenons of weight and weightlessness, the dynamics of form, and the fleeting elusivity of the elements.

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