Beauty of Lacquer Art – Exquisite, Elegant and Aesthetical Perfection (Free Admission)
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Beauty of Lacquer Art – Exquisite, Elegant and Aesthetical Perfection (Free Admission)

Session Information

Number of Sessions
Beauty of Lacquer Art – Exquisite, Elegant and Aesthetical Perfection (Free Admission)
日曆圖案 2020/04/27 09:00 ~ 2020/12/27 18:00

Event Details

Indeed, it is extremely difficult to pass on the lacquer craft due to negative factors coming from materials used for creation, external environmental properties, and physique of the creator. Fortunately, this exhibition can be held in collaboration with the “living national treasure” lacquer artist family, allowing our appreciators from home and abroad to take a close-up look at the aesthetics of lacquer art.

The lacquer techniques are composed of a series of long and complicated processes. Hundreds of traditional lacquer skills can be categorized into makie, lacquer-contouring, inlay, gold setting, wood carving and color painting. It always takes over hundred procedures to create a piece of lacquerware from its substrate to its completion.

 

█History of Lacquer Art

 

 Lacquer art is an invention of Chinese culture. It can be traced back to the period of Hemudu culture. The lacquer wood bowls were found in the archaeological relics of the culture nearly 7,000 years ago. As lacquer resists acids, alkalis, and heat, it was used to paint the surface of utensils for insulation and protection. Afterwards, it was even used for furniture decoration. This craft not only reflects the uniqueness of the daily life in early years but has also developed into a reserved and elegant craft culture.

 

 The lacquerware production in Taiwan started from the late Japanese lacquer master Yamanaka Tadasu, who opened Yamanaka Arts and Crafts Lacquer Workshop  in Taiwan while Taiwan was under the Japanese rule. At that time, the Japanese government had successfully introduced lacquer trees to Taiwan. As a result, lacquer craft started to develop in Taiwan. That is why the production and heritage of lacquer art in Taiwan was deeply influenced by Japan during the colonial period.

 

█Introduction to Lacquer Art

 

The raw lacquer from lacquer trees is a natural coating material and can be made into natural lacquer with different characteristics after going through various refining processes. To keep the organic property of lacquer liquid at its best active function, craftsmen have to control the working environment at the temperature of 20-25℃ and the relative humidity of 70-75%. Besides, lacquer itself will age naturally and become less active. Moreover, its natural urushiol often causes allergic reactions, also called “lacquer biting,” on human beings through exposure and absorption. Due to the above-mentioned negative factors coming from materials, environmental properties, and craftsmen’s physiques, it is difficult to pass on the lacquer craft.

 

 In the definition of lacquer art, any utensil covered with lacquer or containing the coating of natural lacquer can be regarded as a lacquerware. A lacquerware can be roughly divided into three parts from its innermost to outermost: the substrate (or base) part, the consolidation part, and the decoration part. Each of the three parts must go through a series of long and complicated processes and handled by very delicate techniques. Take the substrate (or base) part as an example, it must be applied with multiple layers of lacquer, while the coating, drying, and polishing of each layer is time-consuming and required of high skills. Hundreds of traditional lacquer skills can be categorized into makie (hira-makie, togidashi-makie, and taka-makie), lacquer-contouring, inlay, gold setting, wood carving and color painting. It always takes dozens of tools, techniques, and over hundred procedures to create a piece of lacquerware from its substrate, sitaji (undercoat), nakanuti (middle-coat), uwaniri (final coat), to its completion.

 

█Collaboration Units

 

 This exhibition is held in cooperation with the Wang [m2] Ching-Shuang family, which is honored as the lacquer family. Wang Ching-Shuang has been devoting all his life to lacquer art creation and heritage. He is the first Taiwanese to study lacquer art in Japan. He masters all kinds of lacquer techniques, especially his second-to-none “taka-makie” technique. In 2007, he won the first National Crafts Achievement Award. In 2010, he was named by the Ministry of Culture as a Preserver of Important Traditional Crafts & Fine Arts for “Lacquer Craft” (and informally called a “living national treasure”). In 2016, he was awarded Order of Brilliant Star, Second Class, by the President of Republic of China (Taiwan). The second generation, namely Wang Shien-Ming and Wang Shien-Chih, has been respectively registered as the Traditional Arts and Crafts Preservers of “Lacquer-Gold Setting” and “Lacquer-Makie” by Nantou County Government. The two brothers’ works, full of local features and with high art values, mainly highlight the commonly seen flowers, birds, folk culture, or festival totems in Taiwan. The third generation, Wang Chun-Wei, under the natural influence of the elders, has also been devoted to learning the lacquer creation step by step after returning home from his study in the USA. He is expected to become another future star of lacquer art.

 

Illustration

 

█Introduction to Techniques

 

Makie

Makie means “sprinkled picture.” It is made by sprinkling gold, silver, and/or shell powder. There are various techniques for makie, which can be categorized into hira-makie, togidashi-makie, and taka-makie.

 

  • Hira-makie: The technique focuses on making the lacquer lines smooth and well-organized and is only applied to the pattern lines to highlight the patterns by sprinkling the gold, silver, or shell powder when the lacquer is 80% dry.
  • Togidashi-makie: After the substrate is painted for nakanuti (middle-coat) , sprinkle dried lacquer power and/or gold power over the surface and let it cure naturally. Then, polish and flatten the surface to give the lacquer richer and more dazzling effects.
  • Taka-makie: After applying charcoal powder and lacquer to build up the design patterns on the surface, sprinkle gold power on it and then polish it to make it flat and smooth. The half-relief effect is created by repeated coating and piling on the design patterns.

 

Gold-setting

Having existed in Warring States Period (475 BC – 221 BC), this needle carving technique was called “awl-incised painting” in Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) but is called “gold setting” today in Taiwan or “Chinkin” in Japan. It is a technique of light carving and careful sketching. After a specially-made needle or thin graver is used to depict the fine patterns on the surface, lacquer is coated and then gold power or gold foil is filled in to show the golden inscriptions as they are glued by the lacquer.