The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Wang Ching-shuang (王清霜) family will be holding a free public exhibition called "Beauty of Lacquer Art — Exquisite, Elegant and Aesthetical Perfection" from April 27 through Aug. 25. The Taipei exhibition will be showcasing 10 lacquer artworks made by Wang and his sons and grandchildren. The works will be on view at the newly renovated hallway of the Great Piety Gate. These stunning works of art also represent the generational inheritance of Taiwan's unique lacquer culture.
Lacquer techniques are composed of a series of long and complicated processes, which can be categorized into makie (蒔繪), lacquer-contouring, inlaying, gold-setting, wood-carving, and color-painting. Each technique requires hundreds of steps to complete one work of art, making it a highly artistic craft. This exhibition will be highlighting makie and gold-setting techniques in particular.
Primitive lacquerwares date back to Hemudu culture during the Neolithic period, as proven by unearthed lacquer wood bowls. Lacquer, which is a type of tree resin, can resist acid, water, and to a certain extent, heat. Therefore, it is used to preserve all types of hardwood products, giving rise to a wide array of functional art pieces prized for their glossy sheen and durability.
The production and heritage of lacquer arts in Taiwan were deeply influenced by Japanese artistry during the colonial period, when the Japanese government successfully cultivated lacquer trees in Taiwan and the late Japanese lacquer master Yamanaka Tadasu (山中公) opened the Yamanaka Arts and Crafts Lacquer Workshop here.
Wang, who has devoted his life to the creation and preservation of lacquer arts, was the first person to study under Tadasu and in Japan, and remains the master of the taka-makie (高蒔繪) technique. The 2007 National Crafts Achievement Award winner has also been passing this craft to his two sons, Wang Hsien-min (王賢民) and Wang Hsien-zhi (王賢志), and grandson Wang Chun-wei (王峻偉).
The makie technique is made possible by sprinkling gold, silver, and/or shell powder in the lacquer at different stages, and can be further categorized into hira-makie (平蒔繪), togidashi-makie (研出蒔繪), and taka-makie. The hira-makie technique is focused on highlighting lines and patterns, making each edge smooth and prominent. Togidashi-makie polishes the surface to give the lacquer a richer and more dazzling effect. Taka-makie applies charcoal powder and lacquer to build up the design patterns on the surface, resulting in more volume and texture.
The gold-setting technique is focused on relief-carving and embedding gold powder or foil within the lacquer, creating exquisite works of art. Overall, lacquer art production is time-consuming and labor-intensive, yet the results are delicate and magnificent.
‘Beauty of Lacquer Art — Exquisite, Elegant and Aesthetical Perfection’
Date: April 27 – Aug. 25, 2020
Venue: National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (The Great Piety Gate Hallway)
Address: No. 21 Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan (ROC)