Lu Chengxiang, An increasingly common goal for the world's most accomplished contemporary artists is a revisitation of old or antiquated techniques and traditions of their home country. When the artist capably treads the boundary between old and new (while firmly placing their work within the larger context of "novelty" or "originality"), it is when creativity may reach its full potential. This is true for Chinese artist Lu Chengxiang.
Humanism and sentimental values are resident in ancient forms of Chinese art, but are not often examined through a contemporary lens without some form of cultural, social, and especially political satire. Chengxiang's ink paintings subtly introduce the restlessness of modernity into traditionally-inspired scenarios. One work depicts a typical man of the moment riding into view atop a giant crane. In the realms of Chinese mythology (and accepted among more than sixty ethnic groups throughout mainland China), the crane was connected to ideas of immortality or the transformed "xian" (Taoist immortal) who could fly between worlds both seen and unseen. Chengxiang dresses his crane-rider in a typical schoolboy uniform: he simultaneously addresses the vivaciousness of youth and how time seems endless in the mind of a child. Several scenes include arrangements of so-called "scholar's rocks", recognized since the Tang Dynasty as having four important qualities: thinness (shou), openness (tou), perforations (lou), and wrinkling (zhou). Specially prized traits of these stones could be identified such as possessing awkward symmetry, a ringing sound when it was struck, a glossy surface, and/or a semblance to a natural landmass. These markers (aside from sound) appear, in some way, in Chengxiang's works: a smooth surface, wide open negative spaces drawing further attention to his intricate subjects in the foreground, razor-thin lines recalling the fine detail of traditional Chinese painting, and the metaphoric wrinkling of time between past and present.
These encapsulated fantasies, collectively called Modern Utopia, are Chengxiang's own portals between time periods and aesthetic methodologies. Each circular painting is a strange gateway for the contemporary observer, where the final destination is a benevolent one, but not fully known or understood. Symbols of prosperity, luck, wisdom, and immortality flow freely through these delicate rounds, but Chengxiang's fantastic situations provide only short lapses of escape. His quotidian figures and present-day limousines, backpacks, and school uniforms are sharp reminders that the fantasy cannot be maintained as long as the mythologies they call upon.
Lu Chengxiang was born in Jiangxi, China in 1974. He graduated from the South Jiangxi Fine Art Academy and has been featured in group exhibitions in Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Los Angeles, and Southampton (New York). He was nominated as an Artist to Watch in 2007 at the Beijing BS1 Contemporary Art Museum and was featured in the Young Art Taipei art show in Taipei, Taiwan in 2013. Chengxiang lives and works in Shanghai.
“The Modern Utopia” solo exhibition at Mandarin Oriental Miami, USA
Art Southhampton, ART LEXING, Southhampton USA
Young Art Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
Shanghai Yuan Xiao Fine Arts Exhibition, Shanghai Songjiang Museum
“JIU” Contemporary art exhibition at Ada art space Shanghai
“Impression of Pudong” artist of honor Pudong Library
“New Visuals” L.A. Contemporary Art Show, Los Angeles, USA
The 4th Shanghai Fine Arts Exhibit at Hongqiang Contemporary Art Musuem
“Fire” Ada Art Space, Shanghai
“Xuan” Shanghai Emerging Artists Exhibition Ming Yuan Fine Arts Center
Group exhibition at Lui Haisu Museum, Shanghai
“Open Chongming, in memory of the south” Group exhibition Shanghai
“Open expression” Ming Yuan Fine Arts Center
“Off The Target” solo exhibition at Shanghai Bijian Art Gallery
“The New China” Group exhibition at Walson Art Space in 798 Beijing
“New Visuals Express” 99 Creative Space, Shanghai
Artist to watch nomination at Beijing BS1 Contemporary Art Museum
“345 Degree Emerging Talents” Duolun Musuem, Shanghai
“The Youth” Group exhibition at UBS Shanghai
“Spring of Southern China” Shanghai Library
“Rendez-vous with the spring” Young artists group show at Husheng Art Center