Excerpts from The Sheltered Paradise: The Work of LU Hao-yuan, Chia Chi Jason Wang
The dolls and figurines, which have been prevailing in Lu’s recent works as still-life subjects, evoke a secular ambience not without a mysterious peculiarity. These old objects in his paintings have undoubtedly evoked a sense of nostalgia. Commonplace or mass-produced as the ornaments are, the artist treats and handles them in such a distinctive way that transforms them into “objects of desire” with an entrancing glow.
They can be porcelain dolls in a physical form, or human and animal imagery with a ceramic look. The artist has faithfully transformed these objects or image simulacrums into carriers of desire, where there is no lack of projected emotions and desires. The images in Lu’s paintings are either of enchanting, luscious women, or of temptingly cute animals. They have an erotic and inviting air about them, intentionally or unintentionally disturbing the viewers’ moral comfort.
Lu has a fondness for flowering plants in particular. The sprawling plants constitute an isolated and self-sufficient world, where the artist places the objects of his desire, creating a cozy, marginal atmosphere. While peace and partial tranquillity seem to reign, Lu often manages to conceal unease and danger deep in the jungle or garden, which dramatically reinforces the psychological needs of the figures and animals for protection in the paintings.
Recently, Lu has nurtured a hobby of collecting raw minerals, ranging from malachite, agate, crystal, apophyllite, prophecy stones (limonite) to zeolites, which are commonly seen on his studio’s desk. Inanimate as they are, the rocks in the stratum have been symbiotic with the earth. Having undergone crustal movements and accumulation for more than ten million years, they have their own mode of birth and formation. With a seemingly disorderly quality to their appearance and cross-sectional lines at a closer look, the raw minerals demonstrate organic changes and inexplicable rules of growth without a definite shape.
With their distinct shape and texture, the raw minerals extracted from the earth have metamorphosed into an unfathomable universe characterized by anonymity, uncertainty, singularity and mystery. Compared to the plant garden as we have previously seen, Lu creates a chaotic world, a return to a more primitive state. As new quadrants unfold, he continues to conjure up a Genesis narrative of his own in a larger time and space.