Lacquer is a traditional Vietnamese spread of painting created from a poisonous paint harvested from a remote part of the country. Along with the expensive materials, it required months of construction and sanding of paint to build up the image below.
Business Insider in the United States gave an art insight and explained why these paintings are as expensive as the work that was auctioned for $ 972,000 last year.
Artist Pham Chinh Trungsaid, who has nearly 50 years of passion for lacquer “You never really know what is underneath a lacquer painting when you’re finishing it.”. he is quoted by Business Insider: “This process involves artists sanding works into shapes, slowly revealing colors, giving the artist a sense of anticipation when they are preparing to cross the finish line and artists who love the feeling. there,”.
This is an art form of incredible value in Vietnamese culture, requiring both exclusive time, skills and natural materials to produce it. The lacquer painting process began in the forests of Vietnam, where planters took resin from a poisonous waxy tree native to Southeast Asia called Rhus Succedanea. Forest growers have to cut more than 400 trees to get from 1 to 1.5 kg of resin.
According to her Ta Thi Thu HuongA farmer plants raspberry and melon trees for harvest after 3 years of planting, after which he can harvest from 4 to 5 years. To get the sap, the planters have to start at 4:00 am, make cuts on the bark and use the bark to collect the resin, Ms. Huong added, after 3-4 hours to get the resin. Once harvested, the lacquer must be removed from impurities and mixed for several hours before being used.
One of the basic characteristics of lacquers is the depth created by applying multiple coats of paint and sanding them. These layers are not always visible in the finished work but differentiate lacquer painting from other conventional painting styles.
With oil paint, the artists paint from back to front, drawing the landscape first and the details after. The process of making lacquer paintings is the opposite. Artists mix natural ingredients to create colors, such as eggshell to give it white, or saffron, a poison ore, to create the red color. In some cases, artists also add silver foil, sometimes even gold, to create a gentle shine. These substances can be considered as one of the most expensive parts of lacquer.
Artist Pham Chinh Trung says “The base of the cycle is mercury. 1 ounces of saffron, the palm of the hand is only the size of a quail egg, but the weight can be felt. You see – 1 million Vietnamese Dong (about $ 45) for such a small bag. It is very expensive to use, physically. “
Although the raw material of the painting can be more expensive than many other styles, the skills and work of the artist are what sets the ultimate value. Along with the need for boundless patience, each work is extremely unique and extremely unpredictable. That’s because artists can never be sure of how the layers will reproduce through sanding. This can add value to the work or force an artist to start over.
Operators must be careful to let each coat dry completely before sanding. Otherwise, the color or the design may be ruined. There is no set amount of time for single drying as it largely depends on the weather that day. “To make a lacquer painting, it can take months, ” he Trung to speak.
After several weeks of work, the flakes are polished with charcoal powder, creating a smooth surface and a lasting shine of the lacquer. Artists have used lacquer to create gloss paints for thousands of years. One of its most famous uses is Japanese lacquerware – furniture, boxes and food decorations. But in the early 20th century, Vietnamese artists developed a love for lacquer painting and created a world-specific style.
Impressive as these works, the process is both costly and arduous. And that’s why painters Pham Chinh Trung believe that the future of this tradition will depend on finding more artists willing to learn from it.
Local lacquer reaching the world
Currently, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has officially approved the project to build and announce a national brand for Vietnamese lacquer art by 2030, according to Viet Nam News. The project aims to promote strong development as well as introduce the land and people of Vietnam to international friends through cultural exchange activities.
A report from the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition stated that the project has been implemented since last year and mainly focuses on survey preparation and consultation from experts and researchers. and management officials. Under the scheme, related agencies and localities focus on building logos and identifiers for Vietnamese lacquer paintings and issuing standards related to materials and creative styles.
Investment in planting Rhus trees in the north of Phu Tho province and promoting lacquer production in Ha Thai village of Hanoi will also be focused. A series of events will be held to promote the Vietnamese lacquer brand, including international and national festivals, seminars, conferences, exhibitions, introductory tours and craft village exploration. traditional.
Books, documents and videos about this art form will also be published to promote souvenir sales. The International Lacquer Art Festival will also be held every two years to promote the local lacquer brand in the global market.
Join iDesign to contemplate the process of making a lacquer work through the talented hands of painter Pham Chinh Trung
Translator: Nam Vu