Glass is the perfect medium to illustrate the flow of time, French artist Antoine Leperlier believes.
The artist's works are featured at Liuli China Museum alongside earlier generations of French glass art masters.
This exhibition is among the events celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sino-French relations. It opened to the public on April 16 with a live Chinese music performance, featuring strings and the flute.
On show for the coming five months are 15 glass sculptures by Leperlier and eight antique glass pieces by early 20th-century French artists, such as Emile Galle and Francois Decorchemont, pioneers of the pate-de-verre glass casting technique.
Liuli China Museum is a private establishment by actress-turned-artist Loretta Yang and her husband Chang Yi. The couple from Taiwan turned to glass art in the 1990s, learning pate-de-verre, a mold-based glass-casting technique.
Glass has been accepted as an artistic medium for less than a century, Leperlier said at the opening. It was previously regarded as an industrial material. But artists kept experimenting with it.
"Pate-de-verre is a technique developed by artists who wished to create their own sculptures," Leperlier says. "It is the ideal answer to an artist's pursuit of the aesthetics and vitality of art."
Glass is not like ceramics, which harden in the kiln's extreme heat and retain shape permanently, Leperlier says. Glass melts in heat, and this quality makes glass the ideal medium to illustrate time's flow.
Leperlier named the series of works combining ceramics and glass Flux et Fixe. The flowing texture of the glass represents that of time and life change, while ceramics, with its resilience, stands for eternal memories.
The concept of fleetingness versus eternity is nothing strange to Chinese culture, says Yang, who's also a glass artist.
"As a fellow artist working with glass, I am very jealous of Mr Leperlier because we know how difficult it is to put ceramic and glass into one piece. We have known Mr Leperlier since 1994. He was already a master of the field when we just started."
Liuli China Museum is presenting Leperlier's work now because it has taken him almost 30 years to create these pieces.
"It's extremely difficult for artists to create new expressions with glass, using it as more than just a material but as a vehicle for ideas," Leperlier says.
"Generations of artists have kept breaking new ground, lifting glass to artistic level."
Among the antique glass sculptures on display are pieces created by Decorchemont, Leperlier's maternal grandfather.
He spent a lifetime paying homage to God by creating church windows in Conches and Paris. "He worked until he was 92, sketching in bed up until the day he passed," Leperlier says.
IF YOU GO
Stop the Time
10 am-5 pm, Tue-Sun, April 16-Sept 7, Liuli China Museum, 25 Taikang Road, Xuhui district, Shanghai, near Dapuqiao Station on Metro Line 9.