Lu Xinjian’s works feature in pretty much every major collection of Chinese Contemporary art. He has a long list of achievements, with highlights being chosen to be ABSOLUT artist for Asia in 2011, and having his paintings grace the walls of the VIP room at ART 021.
His best-known series, City DNA, is at once abstract and seminal. By depicting the bird’s eye views of boisterous modern metropolises via a conceptually abstract representation, he manages to create a new way to understand the worlds in which we live. “It’s always nice for me to see visitors discover the surprise behind my painting when at first it appears to be a pure abstraction, and then they begin to understand the root of the work,” he says.
But is the abstract nature of his paintings a reflection of his views on city life? “It abstracts the dynamic rhythm of the city,” he retorts. And this is why Lu Xinjian is so popular within Chinese art. Whereas the previous generation was political in their work i.e. the effect rapid urbanisation has on Chinese society, Lu’s work is more a look at how life is nowadays, without needing to question why.
His 2014 City Stream series is the embodiment of this concept: “It’s the evolution and the logical consequence of City DNA. City DNA is based on the aerial view of the city. I abstract its rhythm through all elements of the city. Meanwhile, I apply a city identity colour (e.g. from a flag) on my painting representing its spirit. City Stream focuses on the perspective of the city and its systems. I want to show movement and energy through dynamic highways and modern buildings.”
But there’s more to Lu Xinjian than just abstracting the city life most people on earth now enjoy. His Invisible Poems series from 2012 was inspired by a discussion Lu had with a colleague, who suggested his works looked like a message written in Chinese or Korean characters. The concept started with a poem, the words deconstructed then reconstructed to create a fascinating mix between the real and the abstract. “You will find different messages when you look at the painting each time,” says Lu.
Then there is the most recent Reflections series, inspired by collector Amy Gao and her friend Francisco Sanchez, who worked for President Obama and wanted to make a commission about Washington DC. This series is a move away from the total abstract notions felt in the City DNA series, the images quite clearly showing famous landmarks and their reflection in the waters surrounding them. “Those landmarks are always beautiful or meaningful not only because of their form but also for their special history.” Later this month Art Labor will exhibit a special new ‘reflection’ painting depicting the Forbidden City’s guard tower and canal.
2015’s Constellation series, “a new series mapping the sky that is more zero and minimal,” as Lu puts it, is the personification of his work, abstracting the most abstract space that humanity has known. In a way it’s the essence of Lu Xinjian’s concepts behind his art, bringing a discourse around the universe we live in outside our physical space. It at once depicts the abstract nature of his art, and at the same time is a reflection of life on earth and the cities we inhabit. It moves the themes in Chinese art away from the politics of control and brings it back to us as individuals, only we can master our actions, thoughts and futures.
2016 – Jiang Nan, Matthew Liu Fine Arts, Shanghai, China
2015 – Constellation, ART LABOR Gallery, Shanghai, China
2014 – City Stream, ART LABOR Gallery, Shanghai China
– City DNA IV, HUA Gallery, London, UK
– Beautiful Encounters: Cities and Poems, 117 Contemporary Art Center, Ningbo – Wired Space, ART LABOR Gallery, Shanghai, China
2013 – Between Abstraction and Reality, Lu Xinjian’s City DNA, ArtShare
2012 – Invisible Poem II, F2 Gallery, Beijing, China
– Invisible Poem, Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai, China
2011 – City DNA III, Fabien Fryns Fine Art, Los Angeles, USA
– City DNA II, F2 Gallery, Beijing, China 2010 “City DNA”, Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai
2015 – NULNU, Annesas Appel, Lu Xinjian, Henk Peeters, Herman de Vries, Nieuw Dakota Gallery, Amsterdam, NL
– THING-IN-ITSELF: The invisible Felling of Deprival, Art Museum of Nanjing Unviersity of the Arts, China
2014 – ARTificial Garden, Shanghai World Financial Center, China “The Temporary”, ARTicle Gallery, Birmingham, UK
2013 – I Love Shanghai, ART LABOR Gallery, Shanghai
– Filter the Public, SWFC, Shanghai
2012 – Distance and Dimension, Fernando Bordoni & Lu Xinjian, Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai
– Re-animators, Meulensteen Gallery, NYC, USA
– The Year of Dragon, Chen Hangfeng & Lu Xinjian, Gallery Jones, Vancouver, Canada
2011 – High 5, Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai, China
2010 – Basic Forms by Stella Art Foundation, 2nd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Russia
2009 – Resemblance & Difference, Daegu Art Center, Korea
2006 – PICTURA Gallery, the Netherlands
– SIGN Gallery, the Netherlands
2014 – London Art 14, London, UK 2012 Art Stage, Singapore
2011 – CIGE, Beijing, China
– Art Stage, Singapore
– SH Contemporary, Shanghai, China 2010 SH Contemporary, Shanghai, China
– Art Stage, Singapore
2014 – City / Neighbor, Adidas Originals, Shanghai, China
2013 – Expressions Of My City, Lane Crawford, Shanghai
2011 – Absolut Blank, Absolut Vodka, Shanghai, China
2010 – City DNA, MaisonPourcel by Jacques & Laurent Pourcel, Shanghai, China