Lu Song, Ruin, 2012, Oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm
When one unites melancholy with a temperament that is primarily loaded with European connotations from literature and visual art, the paintings by the Chinese painter, Lu Song (* 1982) may seem foreign and inviting at the same time. This applies to the complex beauty of the works, as well as their depth.
With the title chosen for this exhibition, Lu Song quotes a poem by John Keats, a representative of English Romanticism. In this poem, Keats describes the sensations of a man who had been trapped in the confines of the city for too long and is now experiencing the beauties of rural nature. To Lu, it is less about the pantheistic conception of John Keats, and more a matter of creating inner images that display internal contradictions. These internal contradictions are perhaps based on personal experiences made and, more importantly, still made in China.
The subjects of his paintings often seem inconspicuous at first, however they are also reminiscent of images from Romanticism. Lu Song combines beautiful natural scenery with building complexes, as found in Beijing today. He paints park views, which often seem unreal - many of these subjects have been found in Berlin's Tiergarten. Nature and urbanity merge in his paintings, without letting the dichotomy dissolve. As well as buildings with overgrown flora, people stand amidst domesticated nature in solitude and enter Lu Songs scenarios of melancholy, which can be simultaneously threatening and appealing.
Lu Song knows how to break through the romanticized subjects of his works by painterly means: every deceptive appearance of an idyll is lastingly disrupted in a massive, but subtle way. He often applies silicone to the canvas and paints over it, only to later remove it by scraping it off with a squeegee. He uses extremely diluted oil paint that is so fluid, it often runs down the canvas immediately after application. Veils of colour overlay each other, permitting these veils to run vertically down the image and revealing the texture of the canvas underneath them. Lu Song provokes the unruliness of paint through the liquefaction, thus challenging the autonomy of the canvas - only to work against it at the same time.
This act is crucial to the process of the paintings development; in which there can be no foreseeable seal on the canvas and in which the layered material is removed, exposed and recoated. Each subject is developed during the creation process and in response to the materials used. Lu says that if he already knew what a painting would look like in the end, then he need not paint it at all. It is therefore the development itself that drives him, as he never follows an anticipatory composition. The process of painting remains primarily interrelated to the reaction of the materials and his intuition.
The layered application of the materials, as well as the exposal of the layers below or even the paintings surface itself, reveal a lot about Lu songs artistic way of thinking and even suggest a psychological approach. Lu dismisses the material from his conscious control, leaving it to lead the way. It is also worthy to note that Lu makes no specific reference to the reality of life in China, but rather (quite melancholically) aims to display the emotional positioning of the present. With the creation of his inner images, Lu Song takes on an inner freedom that may be especially typical for the younger generation of Chinese artists.
Peer Golo Willi
OPENING | Friday, September 11th, 2012 | 7 pm - 9 pm
The artist will be present.