Efflorescence — the breakout of gray lines on a wall caused by the crystallization of salt within the brickwork — is nothing but an annoyance for most people. But for Tung Huei-ping, an architectural designer from Ershuei Township in Changhua County, it is a medium for painting. He has used the different hues of the efflorescence lines on his living room wall to create a Chinese landscape painting, getting rid of the efflorescence and giving the wall a unique style.
“If you can beat it, you may as well use it to your advantage,” was the philosophy behind Tung’s idea. In the beginning, Tung tried various ways to cover up the efflorescence, but all his attempts were in vain. Tung later learned to live with the efflorescence and gained inspiration for his artwork from it. He now uses the idea of doing an ink and wash painting on a wall in the yard designs he does for his clients and says that the efflorescence has inspired his artwork.
Tung lives in an old house that is about 40 to 50 years old and about 10 years ago a wall of his living room started to show signs of efflorescence about the size of a palm. In the beginning, he just ignored it, but the efflorescence continued to worsen and in the end, the two-meter-wide wall was almost totally covered in efflorescence. The sight of this wall upset him and he used thick masonry paint to cover it up. However, a year later, the efflorescence had once again eaten its way through the white paint.
The white and gray lines of the efflorescence continued to multiply on his wall and at the start of last year, Tung suddenly saw how the different shades of color looked like a Chinese landscape painting of far-away mountains painted using the “splash ink” technique from Chinese landscape painting. He had a sudden flash of inspiration so he took out his Chinese calligraphy brush and composed a Chinese landscape painting along the efflorescence lines.
Tung said that it took 10 to 20 years for the wall to accumulate the efflorescence necessary to turn it into a Chinese landscape painting. He also said that when the efflorescence just started to show itself, he always felt troubled by it and thought it did not look good, especially when he had guests over. After trying to get rid of it several times, he thought that instead of fighting with the wall, he should value its existence and in doing so made it into a beautiful piece of art.
Tung said he has transformed something ugly into something beautiful and because he often has to design houses for other people, he must look for inspiration in everyday life. Tung said that when he recently designed a yard for a mansion more than 200 ping in size, he incorporated a landscape painting onto one of the walls and then embellished it with conifers known as the Kusamaki or Inumaki. Tung accredits the idea behind this design to that wall full of efflorescence that he turned into a landscape painting.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON)
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