Taylor Cowan • August 07, 2023

Unveiling Artistry: Meet ceramist, Ming Qian Chen of Taiwan

Meet the Producer


Shop Ming Qian Chen's 'Valence' collection. Three individual pieces available. 

Ming Qian Chen has been a potter for thirty-five years. This is remarkable because it was at about that time that a renaissance of Taiwanese ceramicists birthed a new and distinct aesthetic and school. The Hualien native fell in love with pottery watching NHK (national television) specials about Sen no Rikyu and the origins of Raku in 1986. Very much before the Internet, he went to libraries, then bookstores to learn everything he could. Every time a Raku or Shino ware exhibition came anywhere to Taiwan, he took a train and went. While a Junior in college, he met another artist through a mutual friend at a pottery workshop—they are still married today.

Though his works do not employ a true Raku process (wherein the removal of a piece from the kiln at the height of the firing causes it to cool very rapidly) there is a Raku aesthetic to his works. The roughness, earthiness, and unpretentiousness. Though he does not wood fire, he has a beautiful vintage kiln on-site at his studio. There is pinching, sculpting, and glazing for these pots—but no potter’s wheel. He describes his works as having a “low-key” profile. They stride a blurry, delicate line with nature—almost seeming to fade with their unassuming profile—but, the closer one examines, one discovers infinitesimal details and delights. It’s important to remember that even Raku’s progenitors did not wish a fussiness, or rarified, precious beauty—the character itself means “fun,” “enjoyment,” “pleasure.”



Now based in Taiwanese ceramics center Yinggu, Chen says that the best artists in the region are starting to look with a mind to the future: something that can be hard to find by simply walking around the town’s shops. His studio is nestled within an old, grey warehouse and former export house in the district. Here you find makeshift wooden planks, every inch covered in drying pieces; finished water buffaloes, penguins, and monkeys; stacks and shelves of old pottery books; portraits and calendars; chalkboards full of handwritten queues and of course: cups, pots, trays, pitchers, and every implement imaginable.


Like all great ceramicists, Chen is particular about his media: his porcelain clay comes from Japan, white clay from China, and red clay from nearby Miaoli. 

Despite his Japanophile roots, he reached his present style through experimentation and an inner dialogue with Taiwanese artistic virtues. Each piece in this ‘Valence’ selection will gain a unique patina with frequent love and use. His work rarely appears anywhere outside of Taiwan—never outside of East Asia. We are so pleased to share Chen’s work with you. ✮



Shop Ming Qian Chen's 'Valence' collection. Three individual pieces available.