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.
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 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’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 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.
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’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.
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.
- Chinese artist Fu Wenjun’s “digital painting photography” at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing – in pictures – March 2017 – Chinese contemporary artist Fu Wenjun experiments with photography
- On the value of art: Chinese artist Shen Shaomin at Klein Sun Gallery, New York – in pictures – March 2017 – conceptual artist explores notions of value in the art world in his latest solo exhibition
- Chinese Pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale announces artists – February 2017 – tradition and innovation will mark works in the Chinese Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale
- “Liquid Truth”: Chinese artist Xue Mu at Yeo Workshop, Singapore – in pictures – February 2017 – Art Radar has a look at the second solo exhibition of the Chinese artist in Singapore
- Xinjiang artist Aniwar Mamat: Silk Road Traditions As “Canvas” for Geometric Abstraction – interview – March 2017 – Aniwar Mamat speaks about his practice of tapestry painting, his influences and inspirations
Subscribe to Art Radar for news on contemporary Chinese artists