Wenzhi Zhang: Lacquer 大漆

Wenzhi Zhang, China

Head of Ceramics Dept., Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, China

Professor, Lake Superior College, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Cloud – Chinese, 2018

Daqi, mother-of-pearl, gold foil, toner, wood, ramie, tile ash, silver foil

Natural lacquer is a traditional and ancient medium. Even in its complexity, lacquer gives an impression of clarity and simplicity offering an indescribable aesthetic experience. Compared with other modern art media such as oil or acrylic paint, or even multi-media installations and videos, lacquer art is more likely to encourage peace of mind, a unique art form that creates a sense of comfort for the viewers. A resinous sap from trees, lacquer comes from Nature. Both the end Product and the method of production invites thoughts of a man at one with the natural world. The complex process of Daqi production (the highest quality of lacquer) involves layering, collaboration, carving, foil backing, cleaning, polishing and grinding, a meditative and character building practice. Therefore, the lacquer crafts are closely connected to the inner world of the maker. The use of lacquer in traditional Chinese art has thousands of years of history. Ancient lacquer works display characteristics of elegance, dignity, discipline, modesty, and visual demonstrations of ancient Chinese wisdom.