“State of Memory” comprises nearly 30 works by Chinese artist LU Liang. Living in this era of rapidly changing modern society, when so much is left behind in the swift currents of time, Lu Liang excels at using his well-developed classical realist technique to communicate a kind of abstract mental state and ambience. His art unearths the personal experiences of the modern person in such a fast-changing society and powerfully expresses his understanding of the darker side of the human psyche.
Lu Liang has said of his art, "Trying hard at the canvas and being able to achieve something brings me happiness." Realist painting requires laborious exertions in order to produce a finely detailed final product. Lu Liang's creative process is especially slow and repetitive, involving first painting, then sanding down, re-painting and sanding down again, and then painting once again, so that even a small-scale work may take years to produce. He believes that photographs are jumbled and confused, with unnecessary details that clutter the image like dust spots; Lu's aim is to further refine and define the subtle, hidden relationships that can only be hinted at in a photo. Unlike some artists whose photograph-based works become flat, pale, and empty, Lu endeavors to bring out the "emptiness" of photographs with greater clarity in his paintings, and his manner of depicting objects conveys a deep understanding of their crucial essence. Painting with this attitude brings a stronger sense of mood and atmosphere to Lu's canvases, which sometimes even seem to transcend their static images and become almost cinematic. Lu's choice of subject matter involves scenes that most often evoke historical, societal, or political issues, including his Concentration Camp—Tile Table, Winding Staircase—Central Market, and Advertising Sign at Dusk. Frequently devoid of any human figures, his spaces are silent, though the mood, trace, or scent of human activity still lingers, sometimes in a chilling sense of hidden danger, sometimes in the shocking decay and devastation of the scene.
Lu Liang was born in Shanghai in 1975 and studied in Beijing as a young man. Entering the Mural Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, he obtained first a master's and then a doctorate, in 1999 and 2005 respectively, and currently teaches in the oil painting department of his alma mater. Lu Liang's solid and earnest work stands out as exceptional among those contemporary artists who grew up in post-Cultural Revolution China, and exhibits his unchanging concern for humanity's existential condition. This solo exhibition brings together works which showcase his signature brand of undeniable emotional tension, encased in stillness; it displays the questions he poses regarding many of our societal issues, while reflecting the complex and intense spirit of the era in contemporary Chinese society.