Vietnamese Lacquer

During my trip to Vietnam at the end of last year I visited the exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in Ho Chi Minh City.
That was somehow a weird mixture of old, classical, revolutionary painting and so called real socialism art. In the courtyard of the museum, many smaller galleries show traditional as well as modern paintings and sculptures.
And of course you can see a lot of traditional lacquer painting there, and to my surprise, even modern abstract art using lacquer.
Lacquer is a clear or black sap from the wax tree, the same way collected as rubber and with a similar smell.
I was instantly fascinated by that material and wanted to find out more about it.
That led me to the College of Fine Arts. In the hope to get some substantial information about the use of lacquer, I asked students, a teacher and the shop staff but this turned out to ended up in funny gibberish communication as nearly nobody spoke any other language than Vietnamese.
However, I bought two water plastic bottles with lacquer and a very expensive, but so beautiful Chinese red pigment.

Back home, I did some research and learned about the history of Vietnamese lacquer paintings, how it differs to those in Japan and China.
And then, I started to experiment with it and that little series was created.

After, I was more confident and dared bigger formats. I applied the lacquer in many layers of different viscosity, added different amounts of Chinese red pigment and that series of three paintings came out: Lacquer I, Lacquer II, Lacquer III.
All these paintings are exhibited at the ART Fabrik until mid of July.

It took a long time to make it. The lacquer needs to dry under certain conditions, best is heat and humidity, which was not sufficiently available during the process and therefore the drying took weeks. Sanding was needed before applying a new layer and only when a layer was dry the final colour emerged.
It was a very interesting process, it challenged my not very well developed patience a lot 😉

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