Wayne Ngan


bronze, edition of 2

16 × 14 in

 14 x


 35.56 x


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About the work

This striking bronze sculpture, appearing almost wood-carved in its fluid shape and indentations, speaks to Ngan’s passion for combining life and art and his wide range of artistic influences. From each angle, the sculpture depicts a new perspective that highlights the artist’s impeccable skill and brings to mind natural elements—bone in the scapula-like curves and joint-like pockets, water in the downward wash of the shape and its gentle spread. Offering, as well, a soft nudge toward the uncanny, this artwork draws the eye around and through, hinting at unseen possibilities that might be revealed if only the viewer takes the time to explore, imagine, and look closer.

Medium Sculpture
Signature Signed
Frame Unframed
Condition excellent
Seller Private
Location Vancouver, Canada
Provenance The Artist; Private Collection, Vancouver.

Wayne Ngan


With his singular blend of technical mastery and experimental methodology, Wayne Ngan is widely recognized as one of Canada’s most renowned and celebrated ceramic artists.

Ngan’s prolific body of work spans over 60 years and reflects influences of both historical and contemporary modes of making. From the roots of traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese pottery, Modernist painting, pre-Columbian and ancient Egyptian art, to many contemporary influences, Ngan drew inspiration from the past and his surroundings to create remarkable, transcendent works that hint at historical aesthetics but convey a voice that is uniquely his own.

In addition to his abundant and celebrated body of work, Ngan’s legacy also lies in the inspiration he provided to others through teaching, mentoring, and welcoming visitors to his Hornby Island studio and garden. Known as an avid storyteller, Ngan loved engaging with visitors and his ability to make meaningful connections with others was—along with his lifelong dedication to integrating his life with his art practice—one of his most enduring traits.

Ngan was born in Guangdong, China, in 1937 and immigrated to Canada in 1952. Upon arrival, not knowing the language and with an ill-equipped caregiver, he bore many struggles in his new country, including enduring racism which was even more prevalent in the 1950s. It was due to his extraordinary ability to meet and connect with people that he was able to persist through this time.

In 1958, Ngan began studying at the Vancouver School of Art. He supported himself with a part-time job working night shifts at a shingle mill and graduated with honours in 1963. The subsequent years saw a period of experimentation with painting, drawing, ceramics, and sculpture, and in 1965, a solo exhibition of these works marked the inaugural show at Bau-Xi Gallery, one of Canada’s longest-standing commercial art galleries. A major milestone in Ngan’s career and life shortly followed in 1967 when he moved from Vancouver to Hornby Island and his desire to integrate art and life flourished.

Ngan spent the following years on a number of notable projects, including a hand-built family home with his wife Anne and a studio in collaboration with the noted experimental builder Lloyd House at Downes Point Road. These structures incorporate recycled, natural, and found materials, reflecting Ngan’s practice of taking inspiration from his surroundings, and are often mentioned alongside his art objects, a recognition that any project he worked on was indeed an extension of his art. True to his belief in “maximum participation” in his art, Ngan also built his own kilns, including a Raku kiln, a gas-fired kiln, and an oil-and-wood kiln for salt glazing.

Throughout this time and later into the 1970s, Ngan was actively creating art, teaching, and exhibiting his works at such venues as the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, The Potter’s Wheel (Victoria), the House of Ceramics (Vancouver), and the Shawnigan Summer School of Art (Victoria). In 1978–79, the Vancouver Art Gallery presented a solo exhibition of Ngan’s work, entitled “Pottery by Wayne Ngan,” which was curated by Doris Shadbolt and included a catalogue. In addition to these activities, Ngan also traveled during this period, studying Sung and Early Ming Pottery and architecture in China (1977) and working with Japanese Master Potter Yoichi Murakami in Japan (1978).

In the early 1980s, Ngan began building a new house and studio on Ostby Road, Hornby Island. Overlooking the ocean, this new residence incorporated an expansive studio and was designed to integrate nature into the living space. Ngan delighted in gardening; he created a water lily pond framed by a wisteria trellis as viewed from his throwing wheel. Visitors enjoyed touring the garden, their walks enhanced by Ngan’s demonstrations on the art of seeing and using natural props in art.

After this new home was completed and following one of his most notable accolades—the Saidye Bronfman Award for Masters of the Crafts in 1983—Ngan received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to build a wood-fired kiln, completed in 1984. This 300-cubic-foot kiln was a dream project and occupied the centre of his studio. Modelled after a Sung Dynasty kiln he had seen at the Beijing National Museum, it allowed him to create works utilizing only three simple elements: fire, wood, and clay.

In the years that followed, Ngan continued his practice and exhibited extensively both in Canada and internationally, including at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Hanart Galleries in Hong Kong and Taipei, the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the National History Museum), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and in the inaugural exhibition of the Canadian Craft Museum in Vancouver.

In 2004, Ngan dismantled the Sung wood-fired kiln, which allowed for a larger space to continue his painting and sculpture practice. His later years saw a seasonal rhythm to his practice, where he would paint and create sculptures in Guangzhou, China, over the winter, return to pottery in the spring, and spend time with visitors at his Hornby Island studio over the summer. Ngan received the British Columbia Creative Achievement Award of Distinction in 2013 and saw the appreciation for his practice grow with participation in the London Design Festival at Canada House, London, the NADA Art Fair in Miami, the Dallas Art Fair, and his solo exhibitions at Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York, and Marc Jancou, Geneva.

Wayne Ngan spent his final months on Hornby Island and passed away at home in 2020.

Ngan left an indelible mark on the history of art in Canada, as well as on his many students and those he met and worked with throughout his life and career. Under the care of his daughters, Ngan’s estate carries on his legacy and ensures that his work continues to be exhibited and appreciated both nationally and internationally. His Hornby Island studio will continue to welcome visitors during the summer.

Source: https://www.waynengan.com/biography


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