What Is Lacquer Painting?

          There are many different ways to express yourself through visual art, and lacquer painting is one. Calman Shemi is an exceptional artist who has continued to create artwork that speaks to people worldwide. This may also be because he uses different mediums like lacquer painting, soft painting, and more. However, this post is going to be focusing on lacquer painting.

          What Is Lacquer Painting?

          Lacquer painting can be traced to Eastern Asia, where it started as painting with lacquer. However, it faded away into history until the 1930s, when it was revived again in Vietnam. Also, lacquer painting is known as a misnomer because bringing out the colors of the painting does not happen as the layers are not prepared until after the burning of the lacquer layers.

          What Are the Characteristics of Lacquer Painting?

          There are many characteristics of lacquer painting, but the most prominent one is the use of lacquer. Constantly adding lacquer onto the board and only going in afterward to polish and refine the colors is a skill and art form like no other. That is what has set lacquer painting apart from other mediums.

          Also, that is why people are also mesmerized by the form of artwork.

          How Does Lacquer Painting Work?

          The traditional way to make a lacquer painting takes several months because there are several layers of lacquer. In Vietnam, the painting is first placed on a blackboard before chalk outlines are used. These outlines are then polished, and the first layer of lacquer is placed onto the board, followed by a silver leaf.

          Afterward, several more lacquer layers are painted onto the board, and additional transparent layers of lacquer are used in-between. Some lacquer paintings can be found in China with over a hundred layers of lacquer.

          Before applying the layers of lacquer, they are all polished and dyed. After everything is set, the artist polishes the different parts of the painting, so the preferred colors show. Charcoal powder, fine sandpaper, and human hair are all used to reach each layer so that the artist can correct it.

          The Different National Styles

          Lacquer painting has been around for centuries, so it is no surprise that there are many different styles worldwide. These are a few of the national styles of lacquer painting:


          The use of lacquer painting can be traced back to the Shang dynasty in China. It was used as decoration and preservation of different wooden objects. However, by the Han dynasty, decorations became more complicated.


          However, in Japan, lacquer painting was second to Maki-e on Japanese lacquerware, but it was still well received and was used throughout Japan to create beautiful pieces of artwork.


          In Korea, najeon was used, which is another form of lacquer painting. Najeonchilgi is a certain king of Korean handicraft that people still use today.


          Russia used lacquer painting before the revolution and was found to connect the production of icons to folk art. An example is the Fedoskino miniature, a miniature village of Fedoskino village. It was painted on paper-mâché and can be dated back to the late 18th century.

          Calman Shemi & Lacquer Painting

          Calman Shemi is an Israeli, Argentinian-born artist. He was born in 1939 and attended the School of Sculpture and Ceramics located in Mendoza, where he studied with Libero Badii and Rudi Lehman. Shemi was a sculpturer who moved to Israel in his 20s in 1961 and joined Kibbutz Carmia. After spending 20 years there, he created many large projects of polyester and fiberglass, which can be found in many public buildings around the world.

          However, he is best known for developing the soft painting medium. This is where you create artwork using many different colored fibers and layering them on top of one another to create a beautiful textile piece. Afterward, it is pressed with a needle machine, so the fibers then mesh with the fabric underneath it.

          This makes it permanent and beautiful to look at. However, he is also known for his lacquer paintings. These are pieces he created using vibrant colors on metal or wood panels while using a gold or silver leaf. He did place many layers of lacquer onto his pieces and would later go in the polish his pieces, so the desired colors could pop through.


          Lacquer painting is complicated to accomplish, but it leaves people breathless when it is done right. People need to layer on lacquer with different colors before going back into the painting and polishing the pieces in certain ways to get specific colors to shine through. This is a technique that many have mastered over the centuries, but it is continuously being forgotten about in modern art.

          However, if more artists like Calman Shemi continue to learn and produce these art pieces, then there could be more in the future depicting other parts of history.

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