Magical, Free and Poetic Encounter
Art Residence in Lacquer Garden
by Tan Lijie 2019
"Meeting" is a word often mentioned by Tang Mingxiu. Our encounter with Lacquer, Qi Yuan and Teacher Tang is like the magic, freedom and poetry.
Every day we lacquer in the studio, and Tang cleans the yard outside. He said: "That is his homework, we do our homework, he does his homework." He slowly took care of the whole garden: weeding, tree cutting, decontamination, sweeping the floor, moving the tank, expanding the road and shifting stones. He let a quietly long sleeping garden become a garden full of vitality and hiding the artist's mind everywhere.
There was a big stone at the entrance of the studio. When I first came, it was full of dust. I thought it was just a guardrail on the stone ladder. In September, Tang wiped it clean and used the yellow lacquer to engrave the stone. In detail, the stone stands proudly with the red words "Gong Yao (拱耀)", meaning to make a bow with hands folded in front to the sun rising from the east. From then on, it seems as if the sun shines on our road to work, and the heart is full of light.
In addition, Tang also dealt with a lot of places: depicting the “Shi Gan Dang (石敢当)” at the gate, placing the position of the water tank along the pond dam, the tiny road is clean and tidy, the blue stone lion and the little frog was placed on a yellow stone slope to welcome people who came to the studio every day. The yard is getting more and more beautiful, and every morning, I found the road full of surprises. After Tang took care of the yard, the deserted yard became aesthetically pleasing, and his unconventional, unpretentious mind was inside. We are living and edifying in this unique environment.
I have a deep understanding with Tang. He is simple and natural, and draws wisdom from his life to create art. This concept is completely different from the concept of the academic school that I accept, which is based on the Western contemporary art education system.
For example, I went to the flea market to buy back some old lacquer wares decades ago, and they were all broken. Tang looked at it for a while and taught me how to fix it. The purpose of many people's repairs is to make a broken thing as close to the original as possible. But the purpose of learning to repair is not the case. From the process of repairing, through the use of different methods, colors, materials, techniques, to understand the lacquer language. I need to understand how the existing parts of it are made and consider how to design and make new parts. It is the old and new "lacquer encounter" in the object.
This kind of repair not only allows us to understand the lacquer more, but sometimes even beyond the complete old things, to redefine the meaning of the object. In the studio, there are two Bodhisattva statues that the Tang used to do, and the nose is somewhat damaged. I secretly thought that when the teacher might fill the missing nose. But one day he took a bit of ramie from me, a small piece of obvious hemp on the smooth, delicate nose, and a few slender lines on the face. The other two pieces of hemp appear to be casually on the pleats of the person's chest. An ordinary, uninspired Buddha statue has become new. The collision between materials and materials, shapes and shapes creates a new and intriguing relationship. In the Tang's heart, it seems to awaken a new insight into art. He said: "Now the lacquer will not be made in the past." Maybe he will continue to repair it later, but this way to think is very inspiring me.
Probably the high-ranking people will always do things that people can't understand. I observed the relationship between "art and labor" by observing the work of Tang.
For a few days, the teacher decontaminated the weeds in an outdoor stinking pond like a sanitation worker. A person in his sixties, with thinning hair, rain boots on his knees, knitted gloves, and clean garbage in silt and sewage. He said: "Working makes me think of the days when I was a child in the countryside." A smile of satisfaction on his face added: "Doing these things reminds me of many things, it is helping me wake up." He can learn from labor how to do art: how to deal with the details of a work, or how to create it in the studio. This shocked me. It turns out that labor and art can have a beneficial effect on each other. On the other hand, the young people at the moment are sometimes lazy at the same time as they are anxious. They often do not bother to do ordinary things and feel that they are delaying work and time. Tang will not only do it, but willing and grateful. He once said that "art is life". It is a great reward to have his mentality to live and work, and then to understand the idea of creation and to make it.
In the past, I used the information of artists, their growth, educational background, works and the environment of the times to enter the context of contemporary art. Now, I watched Tang's work in the Qi Yuan every day, and thus gained a feeling of art. The two approaches are completely different. He is humble to the dust, and then bloom.
I don't know much about the paint before, just read it and like it. Originally believed that China's unique art media are engraving, calligraphy and Chinese painting, but in fact there is Lacquer. Lacquer is in the hearts of ordinary people, far from the influence of the first three. Lacquer is very fragile and mysterious. Many people love and fear it. But for me it is especially rich and close to life. From the life, not only can you learn the concept of lacquer, but also the materials used. For example, we use snails to decorate, use duck eggshells to make up for the lack of white paint defects, use loofah, rice, dry leaves for texture effects and so on. So that I have been thinking about eating for a while, can this lacquer be done? Lacquer teaches me to live with my heart. We used to learn the wisdom of the ancients, and more learned from poetry, classical Chinese, and quatrains, but this time we used lacquer to understand the wisdom of the ancients.
The works that were finally exhibited were slowly brewed in several stages. At first, the death of my grandparents at the beginning of the year made me start thinking about the concept of "time." Looking back at the afternoon accompanying him, he was already shocked, and there was no reaction except for breathing. I looked at the sun on the hospital square, the red sunset like a salted duck egg. He breathes normally, and as the sun falls a little bit, the breath is getting slower and slower, and the interval is getting longer. Until 11 o'clock in the evening before 12 o'clock, the breath stopped forever.
I will never forget that full day. I went back to the afternoon of the red sunset and read Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse No. 5" and began to think about how to treat death. Is time linear? Is it a string of beads that will disappear for a while? Are all the moments eternal? It is still the past, the present and the future, and it will always exist and will continue to exist forever. Human beings can ignore the existence of time and space, let their own hearts float freely, and they will gallop.
Before I came to the Qi Yuan, I heard about Tang's experience. Objectively speaking, he lost his memory, but he said that he went to "fugue". During this period of his memory loss, including so many life experiences, there has been a change in time and space. I think the time is quite wonderful. It is difficult to define a certain period of time. The fugue is like a journey of free time and space, so the theme of my residence is “fugue”.
Paint and photography are a matter of time here. The 7,000-year-old lacquer and the photographic concept known as the “decisive moment” are combined to create a new
time and space imagination: images stored in the digital brain and paints of the millennium history, these eternal concepts and instants are integrated into one.
When the residence was in the third week, the idea was still a mess. Because the drying of the lacquer is too difficult to control, what you want to do can't always be done in one go. The process of waiting consumes power, and the ideas are also confusing in the multi-line process. In the last week of August, I started to get busy, and I was too busy to eat, sleep, and lacquer. In order to do "1/500 seconds in the seven thousand years", practicing the work of lacquer and photography, the four gypsum boards that have been turned over from the big mountain at the entrance of the studio have to undergo fourteen steps to make a solid lacquer board. There are always three plaques on the table: lacquer paste, fine ash and medium ash, endless scratching, reconciliation and polishing, and I don’t even know what the final appearance of the work is. There is no preset for the final form of the work, and I did not expect it to last. To do these works, probably they are not what I did, but what I encountered. What’s more, in the end, people can only see the surface of the first layer and the bottom, and the middle 36 layers are invisible. It's interesting. The 36 layers make the lacquer firm and timeless. Invisible things make it tougher.
In addition, I also continued the habit of taking an instant photo every day and combining it with the paint to complete the "Lacquer Journey." I used some of the materials left during the day and make some relationship with the photos of the day. There are no fixed materials. For example, I was foiling during the day and took a picture of a girl sitting in the door in the evening. I used the remaining platinum to pat the night sky with my hand. So, it is very easy and impromptu. In the process, I gradually realize more and more techniques, such as platinum, thin materials, eggshells, gold enamel, photo collages, etc.
The two months of life in the mountains is also very emotional. Life in the mountains is certainly not as dazzling as in the city, but simple life gives us more creative desires. We look at the sun, the moon and the stars, listen to the sound of the stream, stop at the mossy mountain boulder, and gaze at all kinds of insects: dragonflies, dragonflies, butterflies, grasshoppers, moths, bees and dragonflies. At the same time, I also know that low-destination life is not because of material restrictions, but that people can live true. People themselves can be complete and full. I used to feel that I was missing. I am anxious about what kind of things I have to achieve at any time. But with Tang on the mountain in a down-to-earth life, there is no need to ask for too much. Including the Lei Yu, QunSheng and other young people who work on the mountain, the youth and the time are simply focused on one thing. They do not ask the embarrassment of the outside world, but a simple and peaceful life. At the same time, they are closely united with each other on the mountain. I am very fortunate to meet these kind friends. These are all related to life on the mountain.
The two-month lacquer garden life is just the beginning, so I can finally knock on the door of the paint, even if the process is not smooth.
I had a rest for a week when I was allergic, and I didn't go to the studio again for a whole week. When it was the itchiest, I stayed up all night, sitting, staring at the passage of time, and I couldn’t sleep until I could see the blue in the night. After going through the break and returning to rationality, on August 18th, I stepped into the studio and prepared all the protective gear: headscarves, masks, sleeves, disposable gloves, aprons, socks and sneakers, like a High-risk worker. When I left last time, I only wore sleeveless tops, super shorts and barefoot flip flops. In my friend's words, "This is simply 'naked' in front of the paint." There is no sense of protection. After allergies, although there are more, it is only a small fight.
Although it sounds terrible, if you really want to lacquer, allergies are not too important. Everything has a threshold, and allergies may be a stepping stone to lacquer. On the day of the exhibition, Teacher Lü said: "This time, all of them have been bitten by lacquer." Tang patted the table and said with force: "Two months is not considered to be bitten by lacquer!" I was shocked. We were indeed bitten, but our relationship with paint is far from being familiar or even known. Although it is so uncomfortable, it is not enough to understand it. The "painted bite" in Tang’s mouth is actually very subtle. It's not just a rash on the body. It's actually a relationship between us and lacquer. How to know lacquer, familiar with lacquer, and understand the language of lacquer. Many people are allergic to lacquer, but it is not so easy to think that it is really "bitten by lacquer".
Tang said, "Now many people have lost people's real things. They think that making lacquer is a lacquer artist. Drawing Oil painting is an oil painter. This is actually not an artist." From him, I saw noble and tough people like the ancients Character. In the Qi Yuan, between the sun and the moon, the nature gives us a brilliant inspiration and understanding. And lacquer, like an ancient and mysterious seed, in the two months we first met, it took the first bud and will continue to grow as we travel around the world.
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