Gérard Xuriguera Translated in English by Ann Cremin, 2014

A work of art is never innocent, because it is the fruit of a memory, of a period, of geo-cultural and sociological parameters. Even if he remains attached to his roots, the artist is entitled to transgress the givens, in order to create a language for his own use. For he knows that the past only summons us when the present has lost its credibility.

Born in Shanghai, a Parisian since 1981, Christian Lu has never renounced his roots, overly influenced by the reputable masters, who, when he was young, guided his hand and his mind, but, little by little, he has shed his teachers’ constraints, in order to trace his very own pathway. Well aware that the uprooted person lives his native country more intensely, but totally integrated within his chosen land, for him, past and present are not contradictory; they uphold one another and reassure themselves.  Thus, it is the synthesis between Chinese wisdom, heir to the landscape-calligraphers, and the turbulences of Western gestural painting, which determined his itinerary. And although at first sight, his practice seems abstract, on a closer look, it summons the notion of landscape, with its powerfully handled shapes, linked to travelling germinations that lead to dreams.

His ambivalent process, where the light is reflected via the colors’ vibrations and the labile interlinking of form, around a federating center, intertwine three pathways. The first, under his professors’ aegis, takes part in the renewal of traditional figuration, within the respect of the Chinese codes of representation, that intend to seize the ephemeral and to deliver an image fated to confront the duration.

The second deals with a romanticism of a lyrical obedience, with the eternal themes of the Chinese-Korean repertory, within a quintessential vision of nature, an inherent part of the Far Eastern way of thinking. It is not a question of imitating, since the being is in himself nature, but of recreating it according to the artist’s inner vitality, the intuitive power of his experience, which the creation of a reflexive gesture will transcend.  Energy and movement, abundance or retention, will then impulse surfaces interlinked with shadowy or meditative forms, stirred or stripped bare, which remind us that, despite another technical approach, the reign of nature is always at the core of Christian Lu’s trajectory.  The windblown humus, the nighttime gusts of wind or the spring-like dawns, the wild grass or the empty moors, irrigate the space without actually naming it. The maritime or telluric fluxes wander about, split into atoms or transformed into adjoining splashes, by isolating vast lacunar areas. Everything moves and combines, is disjointed or gathered up, in a tide of tamed forms nearing their end. Valleys and mountains, streams and torrents, sky and earth are now only cascades of rhythms united within the same effusion.

However, to these general characteristics, in Christian Lu’s work, one must add specific aspects in the elliptic treatment of his compositions, the density of their structural lay-out and the role of the body in action that emphasize his knowledge of Western abstract art.  Thirty years of intermingling with European abstraction have altered his perception of the pictorial field.  Far from the simple naturalistic compromise, the autonomy of his founding gesture has totally liberated the thrust of his scriptural arm, and diluted his units within the skein of an imaginary analogy. Here, nature is reborn thanks to its very emanation, not in order to transcribe a concept, but to restore emotions caught up in midlife, in conjunction with space and time.

The third part of this cursus, deals with the wash drawings in Indian ink by Christian Lu, who is brilliant in this matter.  An art of scholars, a thousand year old discipline that allows no pentimento, calligraphy is the pivot of this dancing expression that nonetheless demands rigor and measure in the thrifty display of its speckled glamour.  During that choreography, wherein the stroke becomes a sign and the sign a mountain, “the brush engenders substance and shape, the ink fixes the color and the light”, as Han Chuo declared during the Song period.  But there is no question of aiming for a motif; everything is allusion, equivalence, suspended time, whose supreme key is the stroke: the seam of vital energy.  According to Huang Pin-Hung, “the awareness of the White and the containment of the Black, are the only pathways to accede to the mystery”.

Aware of the power of the non-colors, Christian Lu also has a powerful assurance in the spontaneous inscription of the breaking or flecking of the broken line, or on paper, which he unfurls with a masterful elegance.  His admirable wash drawings with contrasting effects, flowing or branching out, carry us off into a series of cosmogonist vertigoes.

At the crossroads of two cultures, his conquering œuvre leaves us with a feeling of worrisome plentifulness that lingers within us for a long time afterwards.