Ancient technique of encaustic painting demonstrated at art exhibition
By Li Qiong
Encaustic painting is an ancient technique in which pigments are mixed with hot liquid wax. Artists in various parts of the world have learned and improved the technique through centuries. American artist Zachary Armstrong is seen as one of a new generation who has mastered the technique. Several of his works are now being exhibited in Beijing.
The solo exhibition of the artist has been planned for the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be postponed for almost a year, but that gave the artist more time to create new pieces that allude to his own life and childhood, as well as popular culture and art history.
Wax is widely used in Armstrong's creations. Besides using it in sculptures, the ancient encaustic technique is demonstrated in his paintings, too.
By applying layers of hot beeswax mixed with pigments, the artist redraws some famous paintings to show his respect for their creators.
Jens Faurschou, owner of the Faurschou Foundation, told CGTN that this is the first time they've shown a solo exhibition by an overseas artist after the pandemic outbreak.
"I'm sure that everyone who visits the exhibition will agree with me that Zachary Armstrong masters this technique like no one else. He brings it to a new level, and the only artist you can think of who's close to this is Jasper Johns," Faurschou said.
The life-size installation of a house is the highlight of the exhibition. The double-sided painted panels are all handmade by Armstrong. Images familiar to most people like daily utensils represent the comfort side of the home, while the artist also challenges the notion of an ideal home with scary things. These symbols of both good and bad memories of a house make the exploration of the work a mixed experience.
"The house was a way for me to create a dream house, a fantasy house, and the things that I was grown up used to see," said Armstrong. "Inside the house, I resonate with staples of everyday living and things I personally would love to have. It's a mix between painting and sculpture."
The exhibition "Bag of Candles" runs through June 13 at the Faurschou Foundation in Beijing.