Brendan Tang is a ceramic artist who sculpts elaborate pieces that fuse together various cultural imageries and traditions. The series of work featured here, titled Manga Ormolu, can best be described as “mechanized vases”—vases that combine Ming-style ceramics with the biomorphic mechas of comic books and science fiction. The forms are abstract and futuristic-looking; there are pots and plates with rocket engines, valves, wires, tubes, and more. Some of the creations seem to be caught in the moment of “turning,” creasing ceramic skin to expose the robotic structures beneath. As objects of curiosity and ambiguity, Tang’s works look as unpredictable and otherworldly as they do beautiful and decorative.
The seamless hybridity of Tang’s Manga Ormolu explore contemporary discourses on technology and globalization. Born in Ireland to Trinidadian parents and currently residing in Canada, Tang brings his own diverse background and experience into his work. As his sculptures evolve into unique cultural-technological beings, they comment on how disparate cultural histories are encountering each other in the present-day world—and the speed at which they are doing so. The harmony embodied by each vase-hybrid, however, also seems to signify a unique form of transnational identity: one that overcomes the limitations and demarcations of national borders without losing its sense of culture and history.