Han Chiao, who is based in Paris, first developed a fascination with ceramics while studying photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in the early 2000s. Upon graduation, she moved to Paris, where she worked as an editorial and commercial photographer shooting for clients including Vogue Taiwan, Madame Figaro and Van Cleef & Arpels. As a photographer, she works under the name Naomi Yang.
In 2017, she decided to explore her passion for ceramics, adopting the name Han-Chiao, which refers to the teachings of Lao-tzu, and references practices of alchemy and magic. As Han Chiao, the artist makes ceramic sculptures that embody “the slash,” which is a term she uses to describe the multiple roles an individual or object plays in modern day society.
Han-Chiao’s vessels, which she creates by throwing clay on a wheel, are made from black sand and glazed in white zinc oxide. The material makes them look like Shang-dynasty ritual bronze vessels, or Han-dynasty pottery excavated from a grave.
Reference points are myriad; mountain ranges, dried rosemary, blowing wind, and shifting sand are all visible in the forms. With her trained photographic eye, Han Chiao captures her creations in compositions redolent of the erotic photography of Man Ray.
Han-Chiao often writes a few lines of verse inspired by the vessel, much like the ladies who wrote poetry in Song Dynasty imperial courts.
“The black dream that sends me the light/Taking me in, I cannot resist your dark enchantment.”
The vessels are more than mere objects. They are functional and made for the home, but also, they are imbued with a sort of romantic love, as if they are souls reborn into clay. In the way that they serve many roles, they embody Han Chiao’s notion of the slash.