2014.08.20 Wed, by Translated by: 陈婧婧
The Shack

Lu Yindong: “The Shack” (curator: He Libin)

Tai Project (A Zone, Jin Ding 1919•Loft, North Jindingshan Lu, No.15, Kunming, China), May 16–Jun 8, 2014

After graduating from arts school and living in Kunming for a few years, Lu Yingdong took on a Thoreauvian quest, retreating to the woods around Dali to live simply and “confront only the essential facts of life.” In this Yunnan Walden, Lu’s central task concerned building his own home, by hand. With no architectural training, he first constructed a thatch hut reminiscent of a Native American longhouse, then followed this by three slightly more deft models in clean wooden lines. Within the constructed, albeit tilting, full-scale model, Lu set his oil to canvas and produced the works on display in The Shack, an exhibit that is part of the Tai project, curated by the Kunming artist and professor He Libin.

The paintings in the show take inspiration from the woods around Lu’s shack. There are vibrant blotchy trees and leaves, a black dog, houses on a hill. Altogether it is a pleasant show, although lacking the oomph one might expect from what is being presented as such a revolutionary concept—a retreat to nature!

A piece that stands out (pardon the pun), if only for its notoriety from its neighbors, is the painting of a male nude amongst the leaves in a state of bliss. Unfortunately, it is neither provocative enough nor beautiful enough to dodge the realm of tawdry. Lu is perhaps at his best in the few pieces included from before the Shack experiment, which show more concern for detail and the disciplined hand. Note the painting of the bridge over the dry canal and the finely penned peacocks in the 943 Studio Cafe.

The Shack leaves one with the inkling that between Lu’s scholastic approach and current exuberance lays territory ripe for inspired yet thoughtful creation. It is to this middle ground we hope the artist turns—or returns—to on the next phase of his transcendental exploration.