2017

    • Date
      2017.03.04 - 05.28
    • Artist
      Lu Song
    • Curator
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Lu Song: Flow

The paintings of Lu Song are filled with readable elements of landscapes; trees, glades, riversides, and small oblique dwellings. But while Lu Song’s motifs are found in nature, the artist is not interested in nature per se but in the landscaped green areas that punctuate built-up segments of cities, and are found in its suburban expanses. This nature is entirely fashioned by the hand of man. We build parks and woodlands as much to demonstrate our power over nature as to beautify the social living environment. Manmade nature is a carefully-plotted ideal of what nature ought to be like. Lu Song elaborates upon this arrogance, both in the hint of darkness that haunts the edges of his scenic compositions and the thick murky-aura in which they are frequently steeped. Are these natural vistas real, or simply imagined? Are they dream worlds or actual places, glimpsed fleetingly but nonetheless embossed on the artist’s mind? This is one of the topics viewers are encouraged to contemplate.
 
Lu Song describes the subject of his painting as “memories, psychological experiences.” For this reason, while his interpretation of landscape is rooted in visual observations of the natural world, when the moment arrives to start painting, these observations are used simply as the resource he draws upon to describe especial memories and to evoke the certain psychological experiences that fascinate him. “My process starts with moods. I draw materials from films, literature, as well personal experiences, the goal being to achieve a deeper understanding of those moods and by means of enriching the feelings and senses in the act of painting. Painting for me is like writing; a process of summarizing, induction and seeking to grasp the unknown.”
 
Occasionally within his atmospheric realms, the outline of a figure emerges, as if from fog, or smog; there, but not quite, as if adrift on the fringe conscious awareness. These figures are usually alone, occasionally a small cluster. In Lu Song’s words “a group of rebels who deliberately stay away from civilization, driven by their dissatisfaction with reality.” This, he adds, is why they are eclipsed by “a strong sense of pessimism or despair”.
 
None of the figures is distinct or recognisable by gender, age or features, but the sense of human presence Lu Song projects in the paintings is clear and strong. Using a varied range of painted marks and textures, he renders the impression of a person much like the sense we all hold in our memory of someone we once knew – a friend, family members, a lover, perhaps – whose existence is embedded in our being while the person has long since ceased to be a presence in our lives. This opens the paintings up to all viewers for the sentiments are universal and is a subtle but important factor in the achievement that Lu Song’s painting represents.
 
Lu Song is a young painter – born in 1982 – and a relative newcomer to the contemporary art scene in China, but his work already exhibits a maturity beyond his years. Distinct among the international, contemporary influences to which Lu Song’s art has been subject is a natural grasp of painterly fluidity which has been compared to that of Chinese ink painting. Indeed, though there is little actual correlation in painting technique, these paintings share in common with the Chinese landscape tradition, the act of inviting viewers to wander within their abstract spatial construct; to journey into the painting and thereby into one’s own state of mind. His study of the various approaches to painting taken by artists at work today and through history continue to provide Lu Song with a range of aesthetic notions to explore alongside his own interest in “mood”. Whatever the origins of these sensations, in Lu Song’s work they coalesce in a style that is quite their own.
 
Lu Song has an especial flair for colour that enables him to create the desired effects and atmosphere. The tonal range can be dark, close. It can also be pure, or marked by a dramatic contrast, a hue unexpected which alters the mood from one area of the composition to the next. Some of the paintings appear to have been completed layer by layer, almost as if they were separate skins across the surface. Others are more clearly worked, reworked, preconceived and impromptu. “As the process unfolds, accidents and mistakes appear. Solving the problems they present leads me to modify my original plan over and over again. By the end, the painting will normally have acquired a very different look.”

The exhibition runs from March 4 to May 28, 2017.

OCAT Xi'an would like to thank Li Lanfang, Li Wendong and other private collectors for the loan of works by Lu Song; DonGallery, Shanghai, VART onlion exhibition platform for support of the exhibition.
 

About the Artist
 
Lu Song graduated in 2006 from the oil painting department of Wimbledon College of Art in London, UK, with a master’s degree, returning to China in 2007. He currently lives and works in Beijing.

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