“I collect everything because I appreciate the craftsmanship, the beauty and also the feeling a piece has.” Robert Kuo
To witness the private collection of an artist is always a treat, and this week, New Yorkers will be able to see the collection of the Los Angeles based, Chinese artist and designer Robert Kuo. During Asia Week, and until April 3, 2015, Kuo has decide to share, and sell, pieces from his personal collection. On exhibit at his SoHo showroom are pieces he has collected over a period of thirty-five years.
Robert Kuo, who has had a long and notable career, has honed a distinctive artistic vision, one that uniquely merges ancient Chinese tradition with a fresh approach that imbues his work with a singular aesthetic. Kuo is world renowned for revitalizing and incorporating the ancient techniques of repousse* and cloisonné** into modern forms.
*Repoussé is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.
**Cloisonné is decorative enamelwork in which metal filaments are fused to the surface of an object to outline a design that is filled in with enamel paste.
“I learned how to authenticate because I see so much. Go to the museums and study the history. I also know the techniques/crafts and so I know the mechanics of their capabilities.”
When Kuo opened his LA showroom 30- years ago he found that many of his clients gravitated towards the raw, copper forms of the earlier stages of his cloisonné pieces. Inspired by this discovery, Kuo began working with other artisans skilled in the repoussé technique and in the process, Kuo created new pieces that were original and distinctive while retaining his core aesthetic. Interior designers are drawn to his work for its alluring tactile qualities, along with the vivid colors, unexpected form and the aforementioned techniques.
While collecting antiques for inspiration, Kuo has revitalized and advanced other traditional techniques, such as lacquer and Peking Glass.
Born in Beijing and raised in Taiwan, Kuo and his father opened a cloisonné studio in Taipei, in the 1970s. Then, in 1984, Kuo opened his first storefront centrally located in design district of West Hollywood, CA. The store featured Kuo’s unique art in the form of tabletop accessories, which became increasingly popular with prominent interior designers. His first collection of sculpture and furniture design was made in the traditional Chinese cloisonné technique and featured forms, motifs, and patterns associated or identified with his home region.
“I started buying antiques pieces in Hong Kong and Bangkok. Then when I started working with craftsmen in Beijing on my own work, I would collect every time I went there.”
Shown here: A small preview of the wide ranging eye of Kuo: From the Ming Dynasty, a Russet-Glazed Ovoid Jar, (1368-1644), China (18”Dia. x 24.5”H.) to a 17th century Chinese Han Bai Yu (White Marble) Lotus Stone Pot,( 22”Dia.x 7.5”H.). A truly ancient Green-Glazed Pottery San Yuan Deng Oil Lamp, Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220), China (8.75”x8.75x 9.75”H.) and an Ivory-Glazed Jar Inlaid Brown Vegetal Design with Strap Handles and Lotus Petal Collar, 14th-15th Century, Vietnam, 12”Dia. x 15”H.
“I think I will always collect. It is a bit of an addiction but a good addiction.”
STRENGTH & INSPIRATION SELECTIONS FROM THE ROBERT KUO COLLECTION
Robert Kuo & Associates – 303 Spring St, New York, NY – (212) 229-2020 – http://robertkuo.com/
Exhibition from March 9- April 3, 2015.
PHOTOS: JOSHUA WHITE