Symbolism in Poetry by Lacquer Painting

by - September 01, 2021

Yongwoo Lee  | Art Academic, Professor at Shanghai University

Chae Rimm continuously worked with lacquer before it became a new form of contemporary art. Creating a new form of contemporary art was a great challenge that required tremendous tenacity and extensive experimentation because it was impossible to achieve by merely changing forms of work or developing new lacquer painting techniques. First of all, the artist should prove that lacquer painting is an art genre that can be elevated to the level of non-functional discussion from functional art through her work, and it should transcend the complex conceptual definition and boundaries of contemporary art. What is more, theories of contemporary art tend to delve into experimentation and the zeitgeist with focus on process as well as the political, social, and cultural independence of the work rather than functional perfection.
Chae Rimm’s ‘lacquer painting’ is firmly rooted in tradition, but it is also evolving into something wholly original and ever more diverse. Her art attracts great attention for her elegant handling of lacquer, traditional craftsmanship underpinned by perfect technique of meticulous jewelry design, and her willingness to bring crafts and contemporary art together as one. If contemporary art is provocative fusion cuisine created by joining experimental, challenging concepts and subversive values of the material and the non-material, behavior, and the avant-garde, Chae Rimm’s art is poetic, emotional landscape of savory flavor created by lacquer painting.

The Good Earth
 Ottchil (Korean lacquer), Hemp cloth, Hanji(Korean paper) on wood

To be sure, we must look into Chae Rimm’s art more deeply and duly understand that it is contemporary art based on craft tradition and technique. Even so, it is a fresh shock to see lacquer painting as contemporary art. She seems to be advocating strongly against narrowly defining crafts merely as traditional art or products by master craftsmen, which is what those who promote crafts today tend to do. Her tireless ambition and originality show where functionally important traditional art comes into confluence with non-functional contemporary art.
Chae Rimm’s ‘lacquer painting’ conjures up the matière effect of oil painting that was prominent in the early 20th century. Referred to as ‘aesthetic interpretation’ of canvas, matière work began when artists found that many changes could occur on the surface of canvas, paper, and the like used as the primary material for 2-dimensional painting, depending on the quality of material.  Artists can give oil painting a unique texture by applying paints thickly or thinly depending on the nature of oil paint and by applying the touch of the brush in different ways. Accordingly, matière can be seen as the end-result of techniques that can be used for materials in appropriate ways, and the aesthetic effect varies as much as the intentions of each artist. The texture of the 2-dimensional surface of Chae Rimm’s lacquer painting projects extremely varied and refined sense of beauty created by adjusting the thickness and depth based on the functional perfection of lacquer painting. This unique effect on surface alone creates a variety of landscapes, and the diverse spectrum of colors reveals lyrical sensibility.
Diverse surfaces created by applying layer upon layer of lacquer over and over again acquire unique color, luster, and shine. Such effect is brighter and more provocative than that created by using a brush on canvas.  The effect of matière on canvas shows the beauty of incomplete color sense emitted from the liquid ingredients of paints. In contrast, the vague luster produced from lacquer painting has a dreamlike, provocative, painterly quality reminiscent of the Sfumato technique used by Leonardo da Vinci. The curved lines seemingly moving upwards riding on green, dark blue, red and black recall the upward strokes of calligraphy in a cursive style.
Chae Rimm confirms the fact that the surface becomes extremely diverse and exudes an uncommon air of mystery when techniques of raw lacquer, refined lacquer, and refined black lacquer—which are used to produce lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl— are applied to create a painterly surface. Chae Rimm’s complex forms can be described as 3-dimensional planes or sculptural painting, and they are a result of perfect technique and should draw the viewers in. Furthermore, the way in which the sleek and refined, detailed craftsmanship appears when brought together beyond functional and lyrical aspects with expanded social and cultural subjects will be a subject of research study. 
Chae Rimm challenged 3-dimensional art with confidence in painting she acquired based on the functionality she had perfected as a jewelry designer. Just as she expanded the realm of craftsmanship by lacquer painting, Chae Rimm recreates lyrical and flexible 3-dimensional sensitivity of sculpture in relief or panels of the past, while controlling decorative nature of jewelry design.  As she discovers her own texture and aesthetic motivation on her journey, Chae Rimm’s art becomes of class of its own, a colorful genre of contemporary art called ‘hybrid aesthetics.’ 
The term ‘hybrid’ is frequently mentioned today in discussion of complex combinations of forms of art because it involves the intersection of radical and experimental adventures as well as an aesthetic revolution in the concepts or forms of description. Revolutionary, subversive spirits of the avant-garde have informed contemporary art since the very beginning, and applause for such conceptual art and its tyranny fuel so much discussion today.

Song of the wind in the forest
Ottchil (Korean lacquer), Hemp cloth
Mother-of-pearl, Silver on wood

As in the case of beautiful lacquer painting by Chae Rimm, the meticulous craftsmanship of a kind that is hardly taught at art colleges today is barely included in discussions on conceptual contemporary art.  In contrast, fields that have attracted wide interest, such as performance art by Marina Abramović, who uses her body with remarkable skill, are widely discussed. It is not because the human body is much more social than traditional media but because it has sensitivity and expandability of expression. It is conceptual art that started doubting and inquiring about the tradition of regarding visual art as something composed when artists express their ideas with certain materials and techniques. In other words, it involves criticizing the irony of a flat thing, that is, painting, assuming historical, aesthetic, and economic meaning as soon as it leaves the hands of the artist. In this regard, Chae Rimm’s art language invites us to see objects again through the lens of lacquer art, lacquer techniques which have been used for centuries, and the end result is uncommonly beautiful.
Chae Rimm poses questions about the situation where materials assume totally different social values as soon as they become functional, as is true of jewelry or personal ornaments. She focuses on finding differences between ‘material’ without functions and the ‘non-material’ to which function is given, and then expresses differences in sensitivities between the things functional and things painterly in detail. Accordingly, function is a label, and she puts symbolic poetry that leads us to discard our prejudices derived from such social label in the container of expanded art called lacquer painting. In other words, Chae Rimm puts on the clothes of pure art once again so that the vital phenomenon of beautiful colors and figures of unique entities can be observed.

0 개의 댓글