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Introduction of Luo Zidan and his related artworks

2006

Luo Zidan is an artist never makes compromise or could be bondaged.

When he fused painting together with performing art, Luo felt a complete release of a kind of aesthetic beauty. It was in 1993 that he first joined the painter's village in Yuanmingyuan in Beijing. The members staying there were mainly artists besides those who engaged in music, film and literature. At the beginning, they were unknown to each other, but later they gathered and talked about art and philosophy freely and wildly. That was rather an idealistic period, but the separation of the group came when some artists were contracted or some sold their paintings well. Yet among all the vicissitudes that the painter's village had gone through, Luo was basically a man who stayed off-stream.

What he always tried to express is his personal experience around the year of 1989. Then what kind of technique could best suit his mood during that time? Luo happened to meet another painter form the country's east-northern part. Their enhanced friendship also made Luo to prefer the man's technique – spread thick oil onto the canvas, then use knife instead of brush to paint on it. Soon Luo grasped the technique because of his former carving experience, in particular, his ability to carve figures according to the natural pattern and shape of barks. Once Luo became mature with the technique, he immediately threw himself into the creation of a series of abundant pieces. These are individual and complete yet related artworks. Luo expressed not only the agony and depression of those artists at that time, but also his attempt to break such agony and depression on canvas. He not only referred to certain technique, most important of all, he referred to painter's village to describe how a lonely artist bravely touched his own painful wound, perhaps a common wound of the whole era.

The first impression that many viewers find in Luo's artworks, according to Lorenz Helbling, the gallerist of ShanghART, is "a total mess." In fact, Luo's painting resonate the construction process of today's China. On the surface, it may appear chaotic, but it actually follows certain rules in nature. In "Finding a rich man," he expresses the mammonism with Chinese characteristic. Those females who sacrifice their real love to pursue the ephemeral symbols of money are akin to a suffering peacock. Luo has his personal experience towards the "newly riched" of China. He often "delved" into the places they frequented, and even belonged to those who admire such living style. In "Auspice," the viewers could see a broken guita, a symbol of the idealism of 1980s mingled with high-voltage wire, a tough eagle crawl with a police car, a terrifying mask, a frightened bird frightened and a puzzled man with a dragon mask. In "Child Education," he treats the head of a child as a flower decoration inserted in a plastic bucket along the street, reminiscent of a falling apple due to gravity, alongside is a ruler, representing principles to be followed. Lock and key are treated coessential. The whole tableau is filled with a contrast of dynamic green and energetic mauve hues. In "Curious Middle-aged Housewife," the canvas is simple yet with power. A leisured housewife accidentally picks up a book, a black hand perhaps from her husband or lover is pointing at her, the viewers could even see the tattoo of "tolerance" on the arm. During that period, those who tattooed the symbol of "tolerance" represented a group of violence or those unable to live an ordinary life. We could also imagine an era that intellectuals were attacked. Luo's parents were all graduated from famous universities. Since a child, Luo lived in a circle of intellectuals at a chemical plant that was isolated in a remote village. Those who surrounded him were mainly workers, peasants, and the kids from an intellectual family even got joked at school. A black lamp on the canvas is visually overwhelming but lacks emotion, just like the ropes around the neck. The bed far away, a simple symbol, echoing with the absurd nipple growing on a woman's face, indicates sex on the surface with no vitality. A blurred bottle with a ginseng inside also relates to the tonics of sex. "Diabetic" acutely describes the living condition of those working in state-owned enterprises in the 1980s. The cage-like bed covers the figures and the black-white television along the bed is screening the sexual intercourse scenes. The red-faced patient in the center is peeing frequently, and the black shadow cast on the bed describes the sexual fantasy of the character that stays all day long at home. A cluster of snails is arranged in the tableau. The surrounding match-box-like buildings, the residential area of the state-owned enterprises, are also like cages. The artist's grandmother was died of diabetes. Luo spent a long time accompanying her sleeping on bed. In his eyes, diabetes is a disease lacking energy. At the bottom of the canvas, the shadow of a car passes and those old gray buildings just start to collapse.


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