Chinese artist Lu Xinjian’s “Infinite Lines” at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing – in pictures

Contemporary painter Lu Xinjian repurposes images from Google maps to make colourful compositions of well known cities.

The Chinese artist’s large-scale works present a novel perspective on complex metropolises.

Lu Xinjian, Installation of "Infinite Lines” at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, “Infinite Lines” installation at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Until 30 April 2017 de Sarthe Gallery in Beijing presents “Infinite Lines”, a solo exhibition by Lu Xinjian. Lu became well known for his abstract City DNA series, followed by City Stream and Reflections, which present simplified patterns of cities around the world. The exhibition in Beijing features the newest works from these three series.

Lu Xinjian, 'City DNA Beijing No7', 2016, 200 x 400cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘City DNA Beijing No7’, 2016, 200 x 400 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, 'City Stream Beijing No.3', 2016, 200 x 400cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘City Stream Beijing No.3’, 2016, 200 x 400 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian was born in 1977 in Yixing, Jiangsu province, China and graduated from the Computer Graphic Design department of the Nanjing Arts Institute in 2000. He later received an Interactive Media Postgraduate degree and obtained his MFA from the Interactive Media and Environment department at the Frank Mohr Institute in the Netherlands in 2006. Lu has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is collected by several public art institutions such as White Rabbit Gallery (Sydney, Australia), DSL Collection (Paris, France) and Anxin Trust (Shanghai, China).

Lu Xinjian, 'City DNA Paris No 4', 2016, 200 x 400cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘City DNA Paris No 4’, 2016, 200 x 400 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, 'City Stream Hong Kong', 2016, 200 x 300cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘City Stream Hong Kong’, 2016, 200 x 300 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu’s work is influenced by Piet Mondrian’s neoplasticism (also known as De Stijl) as well as by architect Rem Koolhaas, who discusses the similarities. In his works Lu starts with aerial views from Google Earth, simplifing the images into patterns of cities, which he then converts to stencils, before painting them with acrylic on canvas. These blueprints have a distinct tone for each city, revealing the underlying structures of everyday life.

Lu Xinjian, Installation of "Infinite Lines” at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, “Infinite Lines” installation at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu alters perception of depth by avoiding the use of background, shadows and tint colours. He uses bold colours, based on official city and national flags, as well as solid lines to interpret an outlook of city structures. The abstract results highlight the structure and form of a place, whether planned or through organic growth. Complex metropolises are reduced to maze-like, orderly shapes.

Lu Xinjian, Installation of "Infinite Lines” at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, “Infinite Lines” installation at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Many features, like trees, road signs or tall skyscrapers, are flattened and are sometimes stretched horizontally across roads into abstract forms. This manipulation of the city allows even locals to see their environment from a new perspective.

Lu Xinjian, Installation of "Infinite Lines” at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, “Infinite Lines” installation at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, 'City Stream Dubai No 2', 2016, 250 x 200cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘City Stream Dubai No 2’, 2016, 250 x 200 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu’s works are also a comment on processes of globalisation and homogenisation of societies, which is particularly evident in urban spaces. In spite of the different colours and some specific landmarks, the flattened cities look remarkably alike. However, there is a magic quality to the colourful compositions that create a sense of creativity, history and vibrancy of a city space.

Lu Xinjian, 'Reflections HKCEC No 2', 2016 200cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘Reflections HKCEC No 2’, 2016, 200 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, 'Reflections Hong Kong', 2016, 300x1200cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

Lu Xinjian, ‘Reflections Hong Kong’, 2016, 300 x 1200 cm. Image courtesy de Sarthe Gallery.

In his later series, such as City Stream and Reflections, Lu is extending his view of cityscapes, experimenting with new themes. Where City DNA examined the city purely from above, overlooking the impact or density from the ground level, the later series bring in aspects such as reflection on water. Through this new angle, Lu explores the more tranquil aspects of a city.

Claire Wilson

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Related topics: Chinese artists, gallery shows, abstract art, painting, picture feasts, events in Beijing

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