Brief Artist statement:
Sotto in Sù, or “from below, upward”, is a type of European mural painting that employs different optical effects to create openings in walls through architectural illusion. In this work I use Vietnamese lacquer painting in the format of a ceiling mural to create the illusion of deep space. Instead of opening up to a trompe l’oeil sky as in Baroque frescoes, this painting opens up to a view of the world in 2015 and the limits of our sky.
The ceiling fresco is to be viewed “from below looking upwards”, similar to how we look up at the night sky to see cosmos, but rather what we see is its mirror image looking down from outer space. Only recently through satellite imagery have we acquired this type of super sight, a remote representation of a seemingly accurate view of the ground below. In this painting, I take a static satellite imagery of this corner of the planet to create a Mapa Mundi with a local medium.
The use of Vietnamese lacquer is relevant because as an ancient medium, it was re-invented as a painting medium during the 20th century. I am interested in exploring a contemporary lexicon for this medium and how the material qualities of this medium confronts ubiquitous digital imagery surrounding us. The deep colors and and ever-changing light on a lacquer image demands a different kind of attention and offers a heightened experience of visuality.
Phi Phi Oanh, Hanoi, June 2015