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Dr Iskandar Jalil: PARADOX
by Dr Iskandar Jalil
3 - 30 November 2018:
A solo exhibition of 65 ceramic works by Dr Iskandar Jalil, a recipient of Singapore’s Cultural Medallion Award and Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun (Gold Rays with Rosette) was held at the Japan Creative Centre from 3 to 30 November 2018.
Jointly organised and managed by Japan Creative Centre and Mulan Gallery, this exhibition affirmed the breadth and richness of the Master Potter’s practice through an extraordinary range of wheel-thrown and hand-built ceramic works. Working from Temasek Potters kiln facility founded by Dr Iskandar in 2010, the works included familiar forms and signature glazes; and the introduction of works with sculptural qualities and new dynamic glazes.
The exhibited works were presented through the frameworks of his philosophy (Perfect Flaws), his travels (Beyond Borders) as well as his bonds and kinship with others (Same Difference). Alongside tea-pots and functional vessels were ceramic pieces bearing evocative forms. Elena Iskandar (daughter of Dr Iskandar), threw light and shared her father’s philosophy, suggesting that his convictions are not confined to the making of a pot but to a way of life.
Theme & Frameworks The central theme of paradox relates to how paradoxical elements frequently appear in Iskandar’s practice and philosophy. The paradox refers to an apparent contradiction that appears intriguing, even absurd and perplexing but which challenge us to think and appreciate certain wisdoms.
In much of Iskandar’s works, the Master Potter would emphasize that in his own ceramics aesthetics ‘less is more’, or that there is power in the small or beauty in deformity, and that the test of a master potter lies not in complicated, monumental pieces but in the simplicity of the humble chawan (tea bowl).
The exhibition proposes 3 frameworks that elaborate on this core concept through his philosophy, his travels and his relationships. Perfect Flaw is a contradictory phrase that captures the approach in Iskandar’s practice where he allows certain imperfections or ‘flaws’ to be retained to enable the natural character of the clay and kiln process to come through. Beyond Borders brings to the fore how travel and interactions with other cultures are the impetus for Iskandar’s practice and strengthening his own cultural and aesthetic identity; and Same Difference highlights his bonds and kinships.