Saturday, 27 February 2016

Japanese Lacquer - Painting or Sculpture?

#japaneselacquer #lacquer

Japanese Lacquer Is it Painting or Sculpture ?


Lacquer Technology Collaborative Process

Production of Modern Industrial Design Collaborative Process

Japanese Artists have designed for Lacquer Objects ranging from combs and chopsticks up to cabinets and including inro tsuba painting on paper and leather writing boxes eating bowls buckets and shelving.

Here's an example designed and crafted by Shibata Zeshin

Is this painting or sculpture?

This is a closeup of a wooden panel used as a door. Some areas are clearly high relief and others seem to have had pigment applied. The blades of grass look brushed on. The metal kettle could be inlay with color applied but equally likely it could be the lacquer equivalent of a sprig made of a moulded compound of clay lacquer and charcoal and other pigments with the final details incised.

Like a painting there's tone and color
Like a sculpture there's carving and molding.

Another example a takamakie inro and no this is probably NOT solid metal!

Rather many inro were molded thick paper or thin sections of wood which a woodworking specialist turned and shaped for lacquer workshops.

Inro were both what objects of art and cases for carrying things.
Not all of them were as elaborate as this.

Why gold or rather gold and other metallic powders?
Lacquer interacts and changes pigments even mineral ones.

The inro you see here   combines a wood or paper core plus dozens of layers of lacquer in varying colors of metallic powder plus probably some inlay or molded clay/lacquer/powder "putty for the rocks though it is possible the the lacquer was carved back and polished to create the rocks and maintain a high metallic sheen.

Lacquer was also an industrial process.

Shops specialized in creating several types of liquid lacquer and other businesses creating the metallic powders and raw pigments. Woodworking specialists created cores for lacquer to be applied. Apprentices and women polished the various layers. Each layer had to be dried. Many layers had to be metallic powders applied. Black backgrounds are probably lacquer plus charcoal or iron powder. Areas that look like ink may actually have been lines incised through layers of lacquer back down to a black layer and then filled with black so in some cases the lacquer object is almost a monotype print and etched!

So lacquer can be painting sculpture and an industrial process plus a really good method for preserving and protecting wooden surfaces!

So how to define it?

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