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 😉

Contrasts

Between all the house restoration work, I had time to do another painting. When doing a full house restoration we really start from the bottom, removing everything what was added to the original structure of house, leaving us with bare walls, without floors and ceilings, left with the rough, basic foundation.

When we are done with our restoration work, a shiny and beautiful surface is visible and make people feel welcomed.

This is what I had in my mind when creating that new painting.
The bottom is made with concrete and the finish on top is created by several coats of lacquered oil paint in a bright, warm and sunny yellow.

Even though I need to apply some last layers, I want to give you a first impression.

A new painting

After a long pause, caused by a water damage in my little atelier and due to lots of renovation work, I started painting again.

This time, I layered oil paints over ash and washed them away again and again to create subtle effects. It’s a play of appearing and disappearing, of strong presence and nebulous absence. Like memories, they come and go, sometimes they are very clear and sometimes you wondering if an event really happened or if it is just in your imagination.

Casein-Lime Paint

It`s already seven years since we constructed a new spiral staircase for our house. Hagen built a wooden skeleton and I put gypsum on it, layer by layer, until it looked like an elegant, old staircase. The final surface was plastered with a mix of lime, gypsum, pigments and protected with savon noir.
One can certainly imagine that time left some signs of wear on the surface, scratches and stains from the daily use. It also had, from the beginning of her life, some fine slopes and dales, resulting from my first attempts of working with fine plaster. Every day I saw it and thought: I can do it better now! Continue reading “Casein-Lime Paint”

Blue Study Series

Steadiness

Making that painting was a real struggle for me, on the one hand technically and on the other hand emotionally.
I used different blue pigments in different solvents which still reacted with each other long time after I decided the painting is ready, but not in the desired way. The components changed colours and structures and I needed to find out what happened to be able to correct it e.g. use it. Thus I tried different compositions on smaller canvas which resulted in a little series of blue-greens.

The technical exploration was fun and I learned a lot. The other side of the making was more difficult. I thought of a person close to me and to whom I am strongly tight emotionally. Our relation was not that easy over a long period, when I did not get the care I needed, when I did not understand decisions imposed on me, when I was lost and sad.
It changed over the time, as we both were able to talk to each other on equal footing.

That painting expresses all my ambivalence how I see this person: the deepness and the impenetrability, the beauty and ugly, the strengths and weaknesses, infinity and finitude, steadiness.
Hard as a rock on which you can crash, but also can provide protection.

conservatoire des ocres

Ochres from Roussillon

There are places in this world, I have to go there again and again and so I went last Friday. Roussillon, more precisely, the Conservatoire des ocres et de la couleur is such a place. Here I learned all the old techniques of wall plastering, here I always buy pigments and tools for my paintings and wall design, here I get advice and answers to technical questions.
This is such a beautiful place, it is so pleasant to stroll through the rooms of the old ochre mill and get inspired by all these wonderful colours.
And of course, I always find new pigments, this time a new blue 🙂

Winter

I like to experiment with different materials over and over again and try out how they react to each other. For this painting I mixed blue and white pigments with cold beeswax and acrylic, applied all in countless layers on canvas and the result fits perfectly to the time of the year.
Actually, I did not think much of winter, the painting just turned out like this. I can see some snow on top of the Canigou, about 80 kilometers away, when driving to the supermarket, and that is indubitably a beautiful view, but it’s enough winter for me 🙂

Imagine, you are walking through a snow-covered forest, it is clear, icy cold winter weather, the snow crunches under your feet, ice cones are hanging from the branches. All that I can see and feel in this painting.

Heart - Jeff Koons

Powerful Red

I finished another painting, a bit similar to the Autumn Leafs painting, but with a much clearer structure and so I think, more powerful.
Also, I used different materials: lime, marble powder and cold marble wax for a smooth structure and shellac ink for a warm subtle tone.
This time, I really wanted to get a very deep, strong red. It’s not as easy as you might think by using different shades of red pigments. Red ochre is anhydrous iron oxyde, a mineral. It comes in shades from very dark brown-red to light yellow.
These minerals tend to turn either into a brownish red or rusty tone. So I mixed them, layer by layer and added some yellow pigments.

I wrote about the meaning of red before but I would like to add some more aspects to it.
Red, is the colour of power.
Kings, cardinals and Roman generals wore red.
Did you know, that about 75% of the worlds flags contain red?
But red is also associated with blood, danger, aggression and lust. The devil wears not always Prada but red and in the middle ages it was the colour prostitutes preferred to wear, until today we call the  area were the prostitutes are presented the red – light district.

These oppositional attributes make red a tricky choice for brands.

One can say, red is the colour of life with all it’s facets: power, joy, sex, danger and death.

I hope you can see the power of life in my painting 😉

Imitated Rust, seen at ART Basel

Rust – Rost – Rouille

I always experiment with different materials and inspired by some art I saw at the ART Basel, I wanted to create artificial rust on canvas.
There are ready to buy kits for creating artificial rust, which are quite expensive and I thought, also boring to apply. I like to figured it out by myself 🙂
Obviously, I needed some fine metal shavings, which I could get from the local blacksmith. He just shook his head when I told him what I was about, I believe he thinks I am a bit crazy…
These shavings I mixed with acrylic medium to apply it on a wooden board. To activate the rust I moistened it with acid. That process I repeated several times until I got the desired result.
Between I incorporated several layers of acrylic and oil paint, and other media to create some special effects.
I learned a lot about how the different materials react to each other and now I am ready to apply this technique on canvas too.