Lode Laperre


Skylight. Infinity.

During Taiwan’s summer afternoons, rain often comes in from the northwest, and small and large puddles often form on the muddy ground after such a downpour. As a child, I used to stare at the skylight reflected in those shallow puddles, and I imagined accidentally tumbling into the deep and bottomless water.

Looking at Lode Laperre’s paintings, I feel like I’m back in my childhood, gazing at those puddles, 
facing a flat two-dimensional artwork, yet peering into a profound three-dimensional space. It’s painting and sculpture rolled into one.

From a distance, it’s an abstract painting, up close however, the texture on the canvas attracts the eye. In the same way that a well-written book can grab and hold your attention, every detail draws you in: from the cracked traces and scraped patterns, over color layers reminiscent of archaeological sites, to occasionally added lines. Lode Laperre’s technique, combined with his unique artistic vocabulary, endows his abstract acrylic paintings with more depth, and the layering and undulation of the shallow relief is often visible in cross-sections of the cut marks.

The esteemed Belgian art critic Willem Elias introduced the concept of “palimpsest” to describe Lode Laperre’s work. Hundreds of years ago in Europe, in an effort to make more efficient use of valuable parchment, text would often be scraped off and new text written in its place, and the traces of the old text and the scratch marks would still be clearly visible on the parchment. This is echoed in Lode Laperre’s works, in the way the creative timeline of stacking, scraping, cutting, and superimposing is compressed.

Comparable to that, I observed that his painting style and the Chinese carved polychrome lacquer technique “Qidiao” result in a similar effect. During the Song Dynasty, carved polychrome lacquer was known as “rhinoceros skin lacquer”. The earliest rhinoceros skin lacquer, unearthed from tombs of the Three Kingdoms period, was dated to more than 2,000 years ago. The layering of colored lacquer flows with the patterns, dazzling and colorful, just like the impression that Lode Laperre’s paintings give.

The rhinoceros skin lacquer art originated from the beauty that naturally formed out of the wear and tear of leather armor and horse equipment painted with lacquer. The book “The Record of Lacquer Decoration”, by the celebrated Ming Dynasty lacquer master Huang Cheng, contains this: “Rhinoceros skin, also known as Ti Xi or Xi Pi, has cloud pieces, round flowers, and pine scales, with red faces and smooth surfaces being the most beautiful”.

Different from the smoothly polished beauty of rhinoceros skin lacquer art, Lode Laperre’s paintings are full of rough and rugged traces of time, as seen in his “Coprolites” series, which records the traces of prehistoric creatures in the environment at that time, preserved as trace fossils. Lode Laperre scrapes and cuts through the layered colors, revealing colorful layers and giving his paintings dimension.

In conclusion, Lode Laperre’s artworks are a unique blend of abstract painting and sculpture, using acrylic paint to create works that are rich in texture and depth. His technique of layering, cutting, and scraping the paint creates a palimpsest-like effect, where traces of previous layers are visible and contribute to the overall aesthetic.

His works also bear similarities to the ancient Chinese carved polychrome lacquer technique from the Song Dynasty, also known as “rhinoceros skin lacquer”. Both art forms use the technique of carving and layering to create intricate designs with a sense of depth and motion.

Lode Laperre’s works are not just aesthetically pleasing but also convey a sense of history, time, and memory. Through his unique artistic language, he invites the viewer to contemplate the passage of time and the layers of meaning embedded within his works.

Joy Lai
Director Juming Museum, Taiwan

Joy Lai