Batik. Short excursus to the history and theory

Before you look through the gallery of my works - I would like to make a brief excursus to the history and technique of Batik, well, you know, just in case you are interested! This will help not only to satisfy purely cognitive interest, but also will bring an opportunity to evaluate in a personal artistic way the works, created with the help of this complex technique, wherever you see them - in the metro on the shoulders of an interesting lady, or in museums, galleries, at exhibitions.
So what is Batik, anyways? In literal translation from Indonesian it means "draw with drops (wax)." The technique is complex, time-consuming, and deliberate, - involves applying hot wax and dyes to the fabric in consecutive stages, layer by layer, giving time for the paint to dry properly. Each next layer covers the light parts of the composition, giving the possibility to enhance the color and tone contrast only towards the end of the work. Such gradualness gives the artist time for contemplation and self-cultivation (which, I guess, is a luxury in the modern world). As for me, the process itself is much like meditation, only occasionally interrupted by expressive emotional outbursts reflected in wax splashes or paint smears. After 5-6 layers, all the long work looks like a very shabby waxed cloth, then the artist, having his gloves on, has to remove the wax in a slightly finicky manner, and then it’s time to proceed to the sacred action - development of the picture with the help of a hot iron. And there it is ... either it will result in magic and delight, or deep disappointment. If it’s the first scenario, then the artist, as the first spectator, honestly and enthusiastically admires the enchanting gleaming reflections of the paint, spreading over the iridescent silk, the intricate craquelure, barely having time to evaluate the compositional and color merits of his work.
The sequence of creating a small batik during the process of the master class
The art of batik has existed since time immemorial, but I began to take interest in it only at the very end of the last century, trying to combine travel with the study of ancient traditions of fabrics dyeing. In Shanghai, for example, there is a small workshop - the "Blue nankin", which creates traditional batik with the help of wax and local natural blue dye, using the ancient technique " latsze ". Here are some samples.
In the highlands of Nepal, hand-printed cotton fabrics created by using batik technique are still used in everyday clothes. It is very beautiful, - local natural dyes emphasize the uniqueness of the national image and harmoniously blend into the natural landscape. And the ornaments are clearly reminiscent of India’s geographical proximity.
Now I dream, of course, about visiting Japan and Jawa island. In the modern sense, the word "batik" means different ways of patterning and fabric dyeing. The term "cold batik" implies an accelerated, simplified method of painting with the help of a special glass tube, reserving agent and aniline dyes. In my opinion - the magic disappears, but the whole process is significantly faster (although, there are always ways to make simple things complicated). There is also a free textile painting, a technique of painting on the ground coat, knot batik - you name it!

Mixed technique of free painting

Reserving agent
(cold batik)

Painting on the ground coat (Chinese landscape)

Knot batik

From left to right there are two panels created by using a mixed technique of free painting and painting with the help of a reserving agent (cold batik) - this technique can be recognized by contour restrictive lines (I made them slightly toned to avoid " roughness.") Painting on the ground coat (Chinese landscape) and knot batik (blouse). I can keep talking about all this forever – many issues and subtle details were left uncovered. But let’s leave it for another time. Welcome to the world of batik!
All photos and text in this article are authorial.