Johnson Tsang

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Anxious Thoughts and Dreams Occupy the Minds of Johnson Tsang’s Porcelain Figures

March 9, 2023

Grace Ebert

“Cross My Mind” (2020), porcelain, fake grass, and trees, 11.8 × 11.8 × 5.5 inches. All images © Johnson Tsang, shared with permission

Through contorted figures, Johnson Tsang continues to stretch the limits of human consciousness as he blurs the boundary between the real and surreal. The Hong Kong-based artist has spent decades sculpting works in ceramic and steel that explore the liminal and invisible, making thoughts and emotions tangible through minimal forms in white porcelain. Vacillating between the calming and disconcerting, Tsang’s works convey many of the relatable anxieties and coping mechanisms that occupy the contemporary mind.

The artist’s Lucid Dream series frequently presents facial features as cushions with “Comfort Zone” and “Impressed” both featuring slumbering figures squashing the nose and forehead. Other works in the collection are more unsettling and use rubble, duplicates, and aggressive hands to warp the forms. The sculptures reflect Tsang’s own pursuit of spiritual growth and recognize the need to “stop the inner war and face everything that happens with peace.”

This sentiment of acceptance and calm dramatically changed for the artist after he suffered a stroke in January 2022. Following brain surgery, a ten-day coma, and extensive recovery to regain mobility and speech, he’s begun to speak about his health and desire to move forward. He shares with Colossal:

When asked how I am doing, I will playfully answer: ‘I’ve been very busy recently. I’m concentrating on creating a new work, which is my body and my life.’ That means, I’m a sculptor and become the clay that I’m sculpting… I just started a different journey, and embarking on this adventure is actually exciting and full of expectations because I know this particular experience comes only once and I must cherish it. I believe in life. Life is based on love, designed with wisdom, and allows us to grow through experience, so there is always a deeper meaning behind everything, and always with love and kindness —even if it seems not, like (with) a stroke.

Tsang postponed two exhibitions set for last year and is currently easing back into his practice. You can find more of his work and follow his progress on Instagram.


A photo of a face sculpture in white porcelain squashed by a smaller figure sleeping on top of it

“Lucid Dream II, Comfort Zone”

A photo of a figurative face sculpture with grass cracking and taking over one side of the face

“Healing in Progress” (2019)

A detail photo of green grass like material cloaking the side of a porcelain face

Detail of “Healing in Progress” (2019)

A photo of a figurative face sculpture with a cracked, rubble-like side

“Lucid Dream II, Collapsed”

A photo of two white medical masks with faces emerging from the center to kiss

“Still in One Piece III”

Four photos of white porcelain figures, each with a contorted face

Top left: “Lucid Dream II, Searching for Spring.” Top right: “Lucid Dream II, The Moment.” Bottom left: “Lucid Dream II, Self.” Bottom right: “Lucid Dream II, Two in One”

A photo of a figurative face sculpture with a smaller figure appearing to jump into the front of the nose

“Lucid Dream II, Impressed”

A photo of a figurative head sculpture with grass over the face and a small child reclined on his back

“Lucid Dream II, Promise Land”

A photo of a face sculpture in white porcelain with a cracked, rubble-like pieces around the face

“Lucid Dream III, War Zone”





Dream Worlds Imagined in Contorted Clay Portraits by Johnson Tsang

February 5, 2019

Laura Staugaitis


Johnson Tsang (previously) continues to create spectacularly emotive ceramic sculptures of the human face. The Hong Kong-based artist’s latest series, Lucid Dream II, features surreal contortions that squish, wring, melt, and stretch. Titles like “Remembrance,” “Extrication,” and “Unveiled” suggest an exploration of the liminal space between the conscious and subconscious, in addition to the self and other. Tsang uses plain, unglazed clay, eschewing typical lifelike details such as color, hair, and apparel, to focus the viewer’s attention on the universally-relatable expressions of each of his imagined subjects. You can see more of the sculptor’s completed and in-progress work on Instagram and Facebook.


“Here and There”

“Here and There” detail

“Work in Progress”

“Under the Skin”

“Love in Progress”

“Falling in Love”


“Lawful Custody”





Open Mind: New Warped Face Sculptures by Johnson Tsang

March 14, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Sculptor Johnson Tsang (previously) continues to push realism’s boundaries in his sculptures of faces that are stretched and opened up in surreal ways. In his latest series, Open Mind, Tsang incorporates hand gestures and metaphorical materials like growing leaves and rippling water to convey a sense of open-mindedness in his sculptures.

The artist shares with Colossal that he has always been creative, but due to an impoverished upbringing and poor grades in school, he initially focused on trade work, including as an air conditioning assistant and a potato chip fryer.

Tsang first took a clay modeling class in 1991, during his thirteen-year career as a policeman. He describes his first experience with the material to Colossal: “The clay seemed so friendly to me, it listened to every single word in my mind and did exactly I was expecting. Every touch was so soothing. I feel like I was touching human skin. I found peace and joy in it. I’ve felt in love with it ever since.”

Tsang, now 58, is a prolific creator, and reports that he completes about a sculpture a week. He shares new work on his website as well as on Instagram and Facebook, where he also chronicles works in progress.





Stretched and Contorted Porcelain Face Sculptures by Johnson Tsang

October 3, 2016

Christopher Jobson


Stretching the properties of porcelain clay to the max, artist Johnson Tsang (previously) contorts the faces of his anonymous sculptures into rubber. The comical works morph facial features and body parts, at times cramming the identities of multiple persons into a single being. These new pieces from his “Lucid Dreams” series were recently on view at the Hong Kong Sculpture Biennial as part of Art Asia 2016. You can see the rest of them here.











A Pair of Kissing Porcelain Vases by Johnson Tsang

August 27, 2014

Christopher Jobson


Ceramic artist Johnson Tsang (previously) created a pair of porcelain vases that when cut along the edges reveal the profiles of people. Smoosh two together and you have instant ceramic love. See more of Tsang’s process over on his blog, and if you liked this also check out the Profilograph by Pablo Garcia.











Living Clay: Artist Johnson Tsang Brings Ceramic Bowls and Cups to Life

December 30, 2013

Christopher Jobson


With an adept understanding of ceramics and anatomy, Hong-Kong based artist Johnson Tsang (previously) creates strange and unexpected anthropomorphic sculptures where human forms seem to splash effortlessly through functional objects like bowls, plates, and cups. While the works shown here are mostly innocent and comical in nature the artist is unafraid of veering into more macabre subject matter in other artworks that grapple with war and violence.

Tsang recently opened a solo show, Living Clay, at the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan that runs through January 19, 2014. You can see many more pieces from the exhibition over on his blog where you can also catch a glimpse of works in progress.