Galerie DUMONTEIL Shanghai is pleased to present Weng jijun's Constellation, showcasing Weng's most recent practice revolving around Chinese lacquer. Constellation is both the starting point of the artist's philosophical contemplation in today's social context and his latest development on the creative level. Drawing inspiration from lacquer, its characteristics, and its tradition, Weng provides an alternative for us to re-examine our connection with the world in a way that bridges its different dimensions.
During recent years, Weng Jijun began to pay more attention to our desire to explore the world of the unknown, using his works to reflect the connection between the macro and micro worlds beyond the prism of science. Weng's mastery of lacquer has enabled him to transform the traditional 'patterns' and 'motifs' into a search for the origin of life and a depiction of cosmic forms, breaking the stereotype of lacquer as a craft and decorative art from different aspects.
In several works of this exhibition, Weng transforms the seemingly uniform yet varied Xipi, a unique decoration technique in Chinese lacquer art, into tiny units that construct microbial forms, representing the initial form of life as well as the various topographies, geologies, and landscapes created by mother Earth.
The work Constellation 2021-21, with its irregular, near-circular, dry lacquer form, illustrates the distant forms in the cosmos. The nebulous-like colour comes from the oxidation process of lacquer itself, from milky white, blood red, to pitch black. The nuances among the various shades of black and brown are produced by the artist's use of raw lacquer from different origins, the accurate control of temperature, humidity, and time during the drying process. The bumps and dots of different sizes in the picture encompass imageries from gravel and sand, mountains and hills, to land and islands. Stand at the crossroads between the known and the unknown, the work seems 'changed in you by turns to stone and stars'.
Colour is also an important component in Weng's creation. For Weng, colour reveals emotion and energy. The artist prefers abstract expressions that have colour at their core. Unlike the abstract brushwork on canvas and paper, the subtle yet visible complexity —- the aggregate of energy and overlapping traces, the intentional and the accidental —- are achieved by the interpenetration of accumulated lacquer layers and repeated polishing effects.
As a medium that has been passed down from ancient China to the present day, lacquer has its own charm. The creation of a multiple-layer lacquered piece can take months or over a year, requiring great patience and concentration to complete the sophisticated process. In return, the artwork made by lacquer can remain its original colour and texture for centuries; lacquer is a gift of time, so to speak.
In today's extreme pursuit of timeliness, it seems to be wise to abandon tradition and look for alternatives. However, this is not an option for Weng Jijun. It is these 40 years of perseverance with lacquer that has allowed Weng to find new possibilities for presenting lacquer in a contemporary context while continuing the tradition —- transforming the characteristics and technical vocabulary of lacquer into the representation and expression of his creations.
In Weng Jijun's work, content, form, and process are more closely interwoven than ever, collectively exploring the most essential visual language created by all three. The installation Standing 2018, displayed by the entrance, consists of three dry lacquer columns that combine the texture feelings unique to varied stages of lacquer creation —- painting, mounting ramie, scraping, polishing, silver leafing, etc., while the strength and solidity of the overall appearance provide a strong contrast to the light, stripped texture.
In Constellation, Weng Jijun invites the viewer to see things anew from the perspective of perception rather than cognition, leading to a distinctive experience beyond our own senses. At the same time, the artist encourages us to look beyond the convention of traditional craftsmanship, to re-understand and appreciate lacquer. Together with the artist, we will explore more possibilities for lacquer art creation in a contemporary context.
Press release courtesy Galerie Dumonteil.