Brendan Tang likes the idea that an image in his head can become a real-life object.
Unlike a paper and pen drawing that sits on the page in two-dimensional glory, a ceramic sculpture can be picked up, turned over and walked around, inhabiting the same space as its viewer.
Tang brings his award-winning ceramic display Manga Ormolu to Nanaimo Centre Stage for a presentation July 10 at 7:30 p.m.
The pieces look like combinations of classic Chinese pottery and modern robots, which Tang describes as a hybridity of culture and technology.
“I try to touch on a couple of different things,” Tang said. “I want people to get questioning the work.”
Tang’s interest in art started in high school with painting and drawing, and ceramics after a project to create an underwater scene.
He said he was always interested in animation and drafting.
“I got into ceramics a little by accident,” he said. “I’m dating myself here, but at the time there was a real resurgence in clay-mation.”
He was the first in his family to pursue art as a career and it took some convincing for his parents to be supportive.
Although his mom, Camela, was recognized for her work to build Nanaimo’s arts community, she and her husband expressed concern about Tang’s ability to support himself, he said.
“My mom is a tour de force in the arts community here,” Tang said. “But they didn’t want their kids to struggle.”
Tang worked with Jo and Vic Duffhues, of JoVic Pottery, learning production pottery, which involves creating functional pieces like cups and bowls.
“I went to art school and kept it in my bag of tricks,” Tang said.
He earned a master’s degree, studying at Malaspina University-College, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and universities in the American Midwest.
Becoming an artist full-time wasn’t his original goal.
“At some level, I think this was something I was good at,” Tang said. “I didn’t know how to translate that into a living.”
He made it work, however, exhibiting all over the world, including Seattle Art Museum and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, as a Sobey Finalist 2010.
Ceramics isn’t his only medium, having indulged in drafting and animation between pieces in the Manga Ormolu, which can take one to two months to produce just one piece.
While Tang exhibited the Manga Ormolu all over the world, he doesn’t consider it completely finished.
“It’s dangerous to shut the door on a body of work,” Tang said. “I feel like I’m always getting better at the Manga Ormolu.”
Tickets to Tang’s presentation are $15 and available through the theatre at www.nanaimocentrestage.com or by calling 250-754-2264.
For more information, please visit www.brendantang.com.