Era of Lacquer Language
Source:Artintern Author:Chen Qinqun Date: 2016-07-11 Size:
As an important center of lacquer art in modern and contemporary times of China……


As an important center of lacquer art in modern and contemporary times of China, Fuzhou owns rich cultural ecology of lacquer and profound inheritance of lacquer art, and plays a significant role in the process of the contemporaneity of Chinese lacquer art. Meanwhile, profound changes of lacquer art creation in China and around the world have also taken place increasingly in the agitation of contemporary culture. Held in the new historical context, and taking the Era of Lacquer Language as the title, Fuzhou International Lacquer Art Biennale in 2016 intends to review lacquer art of Chinese modern and contemporary times from the perspective of linguistics.

This exhibition is divided into three parts by three forms of lacquer art:<BR>shape of ware, lacquer paintings on shelf, and space.

I. Shape of ware (Charm of ware/Tolerance of ware)

Ware is the carrier of the classical spirit of lacquer art, and shape is the foundation of modernism of lacquer art. Two categories of works are selected elaborately in this unit: one is functional lacquer wares for daily use, and the other is solid sculpts of lacquer, which represent double dimensions of language construction of lacquer education, namely, state of handicrafts and vision of artifacts. The former is an intuitive dimension of language practice of lacquer art, and the latter is a rational dimension of language study on lacquer art.

As an intangible cultural heritage, lacquer art is an important part of China's creation history. In Chinese Etymology Dictionary, the word "creation" , originated from the sentence "How great the creator is " which was said by great master Zhuang Zi, refers to creation of heaven and earth in general, and later expands to the handmade wares and creations. Therefore, handicraft is the concept of creation in the context of Chinese culture.

Compared with ceramics, lacquer is a kind of viscous liquid which cannot be shaped directly. Even lacquer can be coiled and piled up, which is similar to the shaping technique of pottery, it can be shaped after being stirred with other powders into mud. The adhesion of lacquer liquid is the very nature of lacquer art. The body molding of lacquer ware, including wooden body, bamboo body, pottery body, metal body and other bodies, is a pure kind of lacquer art. Or to be more accurately, wooden art, bamboo art, pottery art and metal processing should be the language foundation of lacquer art to be studied in the first place. In the language of lacquer creation, a history of lacquer art should firstly be a history of body molding of various materials.

Therefore, the inheritance of handicrafts not only requires studies on the lacquer-painted techniques, but also requires learning of shaping techniques of various materials which are used to mold bodies. We should pay more attention to the lifestyle of Chinese people which is carried behind the evolution history of creation, and observe the oriental temperament presented in the creation. Creation is always the inexhaustible spiritual resources and cultural genes of producing lacquer art.

Corresponding to the concept of oriental concept of handicraft, the western artifact is a kind of artificial product from the perspective of philosophy of technology. With human beings' wills, knowledge, capabilities and values, it is the second natural object produced by human beings with use of technology through manual labor. Artifact is a design concept in the language context of western culture. Solid sculpt of lacquer is the extension of the training of three-dimensional constitution, which is the foundation of modern education of lacquer art. With people-oriented goals, it is a comprehensive understanding of objects of lacquer art creation, including their material element attributes, physical structure attributes, intention function attributes and symbolic information attributes. It also fully conducts deduction and innovation of design possibilities, and then comprehensively thinks and makes its choice in works or in involved materials, moldings, shapes, crafts, symmetry, rhythm, balance, colors, functions and other factors of artifacts design. Although the solid sculpt of lacquer reflects the inspiration of sensible intuition, it presents thinking characteristics of rationality and carefulness as a whole, which runs throughout the whole creation process of works. The solid sculpt of lacquer, led by the eight Institutes of Fine Arts, represents the latest achievements in this direction. Li Mingqian, Guo Xiaoyi, Hu Xiushu and Tan Dali are the persistent language researchers in this field.

Chinese lacquer art in modern and contemporary times is developed in the cultural fault produced by social upheaval. Therefore, retrospect of traditions has become a performance of cultural consciousness and confidence of lacquer artists, and a research trend of ancient artifacts in the field of lacquer art in recent years. The reproduction of Chinese zither in Tang and Song Dynasty by Liang Yuan and Wang Yaxiong, the exploration of ancient furniture by Chen Jie, the extensive collection and exploration of ancient artifacts by Zheng Lei and Zhao Jianwei, the experience of Zhang Cheng's carved lacquer ware by Chen Qinli, the attempt of integration of ceramics and lacquer art by Xiao Chuanbin, the study of ancient artifacts by Li Zhouwu and other researches all present enough respect and cognition of China's creation tradition, and reflect due manner of a contemporary lacquer artist to his ethnic culture. There are two important cases deserved to be mentioned. One is Zhong Sheng. He starts from Kintsukuroi to contact tradition, and dialog with predecessors and show respect to tradition in the process of repair and restoration. He subtly influences the repair of Kintsukuroi of full ceramic and the repair of half-porcelain and half-lacquer wares, and finally achieves reconstruction of pure lacquer wares. His worship of tradition is like imitating calligraphy everyday, which is step by step but more and more profound as time goes on. The other is Gan Erke, who is away from the hustle and bustle of lacquer field to practice lacquer art. His worship and inheritance of traditional wares is rigorous and elaborate. From single petal, several petals to dozens of petals, his petal- shaped boxes are covered with adequate seal from any directions. Every process, including body molding, ashes brushing and polish, is conducted almost perfectly, and is figured out and learned from artifacts of various dynasties. In terms of lacquer-painted decoration, he gilds several layers of gold foils in the traditional pineapple lacquer of Tunxi, which makes the traditional pineapple lacquer more noble and exquisite.

The construction of the mother tongue of China's lacquer art is a creation process full of Buddhist mood towards passing on techniques, teaching artistry and realizing the philosophic theory. The techniques, artistry and philosophic theory are special observation of Chinese people on creation, which is felt from the intuitive dimension of oriental handicrafts: eyes and hands, heart and articles, style and character, wares and theory and other traditional essence. On the basis of being familiar with the ware concept of the creation, we should cultivate the spirit of the ware. We should not only transcend the beautiful, flowery and exquisite style which is popular in the field of Japanese lacquer art, but also seek forceful, ancient, bold, wild, peculiar, extraordinary, bleak, vigorous, and rich cultural traits and profound spiritual resources of China's traditions, thus making China's own voice in the field of lacquer art which is occupied with Japanese and western lacquer wares and brands.

Promoting the language construction of China's lacquer art from the double dimensions of handicrafts and artifacts makes it possible to realize the modernity of China's lacquer art.

II. Lacquer paintings on shelf (Lacquer language/Context language)

Lacquer painting is a form of lacquer art on shelf. As a form on shelf, Chinese oil painting is a kind of painting which follows the value standard of many western schools, and it is the first to put forward nationalization of oil painting and search for its own value. Imagery oil painting and enjoyable oil painting are results of the above efforts. Should lacquer painting be nationalized? Or, conversely, has lacquer painting been westernized? At least, lacquer painting has been westernized in terms of visual habit. Modern lacquer painting is named with the symbol of western language context. Lacquer painting is the ancient language of Chinese vision, which is evolved from the lacquer-painted decoration of ancient lacquer wares and becomes an important carrier of juvenile period of Chinese painting. From Warring States Period to Ming and Qing Dynasties and the period of republic of China, the cultural context of lacquer painting had never been interrupted. However, due to our lack of organization and studies on the lacquer painting, we cut off the history of China's art of statue, which is shaped after thousands of years, with the influence of accepting Japanese and European fine art education for nearly one hundred years. People always hope that history can be written from themselves, so they accept the lacquer painting in the western language context and define it as modern lacquer painting. However, we pay more attention to what changes and creations have taken place to the language of China's lacquer painting under the influence of thoughts agitation for a century. We do not refuse the enlightenment of western paintings to the oriental ones for one hundred years, but we are more concerned about the extension and growth of Chinese cultural context in lacquer painting.

After the awakening of individuals, or after artistic freedom, the biggest confusion of modernity is the entanglement which is difficult to choose because of information surplus. In the art forest where the cosmopolitanism strives against orientalism and various schools compete with each other, the representation of modernity is westernization of education of non-western countries. Looked to the West for inspiration, realism and modernism have become the principal axis of shelf education at colleges. Hence, when lacquer painting is introduced into colleges, it is painted realistically and decorated, and then is deconstructed. When realistic painting is becoming gaudy, pope and cynic, or gradually towards decomposition, performance and abstract, will its form and color reach the other side of idea? Modernism is an important way of language training. When painting and modernism are over interpreted, will the ancient lacquer painting occupy a tiny space in the western value system? It is unpredictable.

Emphasis on the inheritance and development of cultural context of China's lacquer painting can reflect the theme of this exhibition which is to establish terminology bank and value chain of Chinese lacquer art. From Shen Fuwen who was born in 1906 to those new artists who were born in 1980s, this exhibition selected 33 representative lacquer painters to show persistent lacquer painters of different language directions at various stage for nearly a century.

As mentioned earlier, the style of Shen Fuwen is between ethnic style and realism. The earliest two language pursuit of China's modern lacquer painting are fully reflected in the painting of Wang Heju and Qiao Shiguang who were born in 1930s and that of Zhan Shu'an and Chen Lide who were born in 1940s. Wang Heju absorbs inspiration from rock paintings, paper cutting and patterns of ancient paintings, and Qiao Shiguang inherits the decoration style of the beauty of Chinese craft which makes lacquer painting presented same style with Chinese quintessence in terms of materials, techniques and patterns. Zhan Shu'an and Chen Lide let the oriental lacquer-painted decoration with a history for thousands of years encounter western shadow technique of centurial history, which realizes subtle painting expressed with three dimensions.

Carnap is the first to put forward the language stratification theory, he thinks: "There are two involved languages: one is the language we are studying, we call it object language; and the other is the language we are using for discussing the form of object language, we call it form language (namely metal language)."The metal language of vision is the metal theory for critics to conclude and explain the object language. It is also the methodology applied for the creation of object language by artistes consciously or unconsciously, and it is an advanced form of logic.

Writing, material language and public image language…those resources can be applied for creation of vision in certain forms and rules by any person,which can be regarded as available metal language of vision for everyone. Such problem does not exist that if anyone uses those resources, other people will not have the right to use them. Writing is a normal application in many kinds of paintings, so writing of lacquer expands infinite space after Li Xiqi. The writing he has borrowed is the metal language of vision that has accumulated over thousands of years in China, but what he wants to express only belongs to his object language.

The order to apply metal language does not represent the level of work achievement and value, and the practice of others presents their unique cultural background and comprehensive qualities. There is an old saying goes: "Even drinking the same water from the same river, the spring and autumn are still different in the eyes of different people."

Compared with other mass art media material, the research and application of writing of lacquer metal language is just a beginning. The writing is an important direction to develop the metal language of lacquer painting, and has deep relationship with China's cultural context of line shaping. A peak of Chinese line art is in Han Dynasty where the tall, dense, smooth and slender lines are used to draw and write in the decoration of lacquer wares. The fight between sticky elasticity of lacquer and gravity of earth provides infinite possibilities for the writing of lacquer on the practice of object language.

Similar to the problem of writing, public images or same themes have become a controversial topic. In fact, as a creation motif of object language, Huian women, created from Wu Chuan, Chen Jinhua and Tang Zhiyi to Zheng Yuntao and Zhou Jian, all reflect skill height, popular patterns and aesthetic tastes of their own age. The awareness of occupying ranks in the field of language possibilities is performance of decline in creativity. Lacquer painting is a form that has not been fully developed, and each creator can only carry out a limited study work in the direction towards his advantages for a lifetime. The possibilities of language of vision are infinite, and the mystery of metal language and object language can never be completely touched by individuals.

It is noticeable that lacquer painters who stick to Chinese cultural context of lacquer painting, starting from three key words of modernism—material, technique and pattern, pay more attention to think any concept that can activate their artistic thoughts, such as defamiliarization, deconstruction, reorganization, suspension, blocking, ambiguity, parody, irony, etc. They continuously observe those artistic methods and languages in the application of lacquer painting, and the lacquer painting on shelf which is full of oriental flavor and wisdom should have a broader prospect.

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[Editor] 张艳