July 28 at 5 PM, 2012
July 28 till 30, 2012
CEAC, Xiamen, China
During my stay in China I was interested in the process involved in the making of bodiless lacquer.
I travelled several times to Fuzhou, which is the centre of famous lacquer ware.
I asked the lacquer painters how they could produce these smooth shiny surfaces in this polluted city, filled with dust of traffic and ongoing construction sites.
They replied: we polish the dust away! You will not see it in the end, the surface will be smooth!
The natural varnish they use is made from the sap of the lacquer tree. Once exposed to air, the raw lacquer is used as a strong adhesive and by drying in the shade, it produces a very hard, durable finish.
I thought: the time the lacquer is wet it attracts particles and all of them will disappear in the layers, one by one.
So, if you follow their way, small pieces of the urban environment like coarse particles released by demolition and the tiny air-pollution particles, will gradually be included in the lacquer.
The amount tiny matter the lacquer can collect is also related to the duration of the process. After preparation and polishing it takes about 3 months to coat, with several dozen up to hundreds of layers of lacquer, reaching a total thickness of 5 to 18 millimetres. After every layer the lacquer painter has to wait at least 12 hours before adding a new one.
My conclusion: the natural lacquer method is physically collecting the history of the changing Chinese environments and neighbourhoods.
The video ‘Fruit from Fuzhou’ express this idea of changes recorded and included by lacquer.
I was very lucky the old lacquer-master Zheng Chongyao wanted to cooperate with me.