Art Minute

Why Brendan Tang brings together the worlds of Japanese robot toys and Ming vases

Tang's work isn't just about marrying disparate art forms — it's about how that mash-up of the traditional and the modern creates the hybrid culture we all live in.

His sculptures explore how the traditional and the modern combine to create the hybrid culture we all live in

(CBC Arts)

Brendan Tang's sculptures fuse the traditional and the modern by combining Chinese Ming vases with Japanese robot toys. But his work isn't just about marrying disparate art forms — it's about how that mash-up of the traditional and the modern creates the hybrid culture we all live in.

"At its root, I think the Manga Ormolu series is about hybrid-ing two different worlds," he explains, "the two different worlds being the popular cultural world of Japanese robot toys, and the traditional world of the Ming vases. And in a lot of ways, we're all negotiating those two worlds. We have the pre-internet lives and then we have these devices in everybody's pocket that changed the game."

Watch the video:

Why Brendan Tang brings together the worlds of Japanese robot toys and Ming vases. 1:05

For Tang, who was born in Ireland to Trinidadian parents of Asian descent and now lives in Vancouver, hybridity is reflected in everything he makes. When he spoke to CBC Arts in early 2018, he described his sculptures as "having one foot in the past and one foot in the future."

"It's actually like a warping and twisting and pinching and pulling of our history," he says of his practice in the video above. "Now the relationship is definitely much more adversarial — very much like how our relationship with history is."

See more of his work:

(Brendan Tang)
(Brendan Tang)
(Brendan Tang)

Art Minute is a CBC Arts series taking you inside the minds of Canadian artists to hear what makes them tick and the ideas behind their work.

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