Prague International Design Festival


Terra Alba: The new wave of Czech porcelain

29. 9. 2022

A collection of the most interesting porcelain objects from recent years, as well as completely new works, will be offered by another of the main exhibitions of this year's Designblok, entitled Terra Alba – nová vlna českého porcelánu [Terra Alba: the new wave of Czech porcelain]. Works curated by art historian Radek Wohlmuth from the unorthodox architecture of Maxim Velčovský will be on display on the 2nd floor of the museum. 

The exhibition is organized on the occasion of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. After the Designblok, it will travel to the Moravian Gallery in Brno.

About the exhibition

The title of the exhibition focusing on the contemporary form of Czech porcelain refers to several things. First, it is its characteristic white colour. Archaic Latin also reminds us of porcelain's long history. This geographically anchored term evokes the fact that the secrets and origins of porcelain production are linked to faraway China, from where this luxury commodity was imported to Europe over much time and mainly thanks to discovery expeditions. The main method of conceiving this project, as the title suggests, was monitoring - or mapping - of the Czech porcelain landscape, which, although it originates in the past and is situated in the present, keeps developing spontaneously towards the future, meaning it can never be known or explored in its entirety.

The basic point of reference here is the turn of the millennium, or the year 2002 to be more precise, which is when the first design shop of the Qubus studio opened in Prague. It became a fundamental platform for the then emerging generation of young artists who focused in their work on content and conceptual design. From the beginning, authors from this circle frequently used porcelain to express themselves, and the material - viewed as traditional - has become an important medium in promoting "new creativity", often based on storytelling rooted in personal mythology and historical experience. From the beginning, porcelain objects have been "reactions", i.e., biased, yet questioning and thoughtful, and at times even ironic commentaries. Designers associated with Qubus were later followed by their younger successors, a new generation of artists, which to this day naturally rises from the ranks of students of the previous generation, as its representatives have become heads of ceramics studios at art colleges. Continuity within the field of porcelain and integrity of thought have thus been spontaneously achieved.     

Although timewise, the exhibition covers almost two decades, its focus is mainly on the last decade; it aims to present the current situation, context, and different approaches to tradition, as well as the present feeling of life. It focuses on original design that can open up themes, reinterpret and break down established stereotypes, be it in technology, morphology, décor, and meaning. The selection deliberately omits some notoriously known projects, even though - seen from today's perspective - they indisputably have an initiatory character, be it within the framework of post-communist development of the field of porcelain or regarding the process of design becoming more "democratic" and accessible to the society. This project doesn't aim at presenting an exhaustive overview of the most famous milestones, nor does it almost at all consider mass-produced and standard, household porcelain, mentioning it only exceptionally, in the case of a "different" solution used or an ideological overlap.

Over twenty-five authors brought together in this exhibition create a fragmented, yet mutually compatible picture of the medium of porcelain. They also present a complex report of our everyday life in which - among other things - issues such as ecology, sustainability, inclusion, and the pandemic resonate. Let's not forget that contemporary porcelain is also a catalyst for emotions and a way of communication for its authors. This said, some works reach an almost existential dimension and stand on the edge of free art.

Radek Wohlmuth
exhibition curator



Concepti: Jana Zielinski Jiří Macek
Exhibition curator: Radek Wohlmuth
Architecture: Maxim Velčovský
Production manager: Šimon Borecký
Graphic design: Martina Černá
Photography: Michaela Karásková
Producer: Designblok / Profil Media s.r.o.

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