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Me and You", Art Critique Article"

Liu Siyuan

BB Gallery


In Paris, Lu Hang often frequents the Louvre. Sometimes, he goes there just for a piece of art, observing it for two hours, three hours, or even half a day. As the observation continues and deepens, as described by Hesse in his depiction of reading, wonderful things happen:


"At first, they thought it was a beautiful children's garden, with tulip beds and golden ponds, but now this garden has become a park, a landscape, a part of the earth. This world, with its celestial ivory coast, is full of an enticing ecstasy and constantly refreshing petals. And what looked like a garden, a park, or a tropical jungle yesterday, today, and tomorrow, increasingly resembles a temple, with thousands of rooms and courtyards, the spiritual wealth of all nations and ages, all waiting to be awakened, forming a polyphonic choir."


The constantly layered and expansive enrichment makes the psychological feeling brought by this mode of observation, rather than visual, closer to the nature of hearing. Observing in listening transforms the psychological relationship between individuals and works from "me and it" to "me and you," which is a face-to-face, direct, and intimate relationship. It is a "me" encountering "you" with my entire existence, it is a kind of communication and symbiosis.


The philosopher Martin Buber stated in his most important work, "I and Thou," that knowing whether a person perceives the external world as "you" or as "it" is a fundamental question. He believes that "me and it" reflects an experiential world, while "me and you" shapes a relational world.


Currently, when we say we are facing a person, it also implies that we will face the information and news that this person receives every moment, every minute, every second from various social accounts, media, entertainment platforms, etc. Such a situation makes the real face-to-face encounter of one person with another person (whether in reality or psychologically) a rare and luxurious thing. You will feel the panic and uncertainty that the person in front may get up and leave at any moment, the temptation and threat of another time and space hover between the dialogists, leaving at any moment has gradually become an implicit understanding, everyone seems to be "living elsewhere."


Facing Lu Hang, he often asks a question after finishing his own statement, "So, what do you think?", "Do you also think so?", "What are your feelings?". When you get used to Lu Hang's way of communicating, you will understand that he is not a unidirectional transmitter who leans the right to speak towards himself, but a participatory co-constructor who brings everything of himself and tries to explore everything in others. He seems to be a person who is eternally sitting on the chair across.


Watching and listening, whatever the cost, to art, to others, and to the entire external world. Time shows a delay on Lu Hang. He seems to come from 20 or 30 years ago, having not experienced the rapid acceleration of time, thus giving people a long-lost sense of classical faith and enthusiasm.


Lu Hang regards his constantly evolving artist's life as the most important work, that is, his cognition, feeling, expression, and creation; and each specific work only bears the mark of different stages. If Lu Hang's experience and works are juxtaposed, it will be discovered that his process of confusion, reflection, collapse, and reconstruction by stages is an active participation one after another in the external world, in the expansion and deepening of the psychological perspective relationship of "me and you." "Man" and "human nature" have become the meta-propositions that Lu Hang and his works always question and explore.



In 1987, Lu Hang was born in Beijing. Regarding the influence of his family, he believes that his parents' permissive upbringing played a key role.


Since the beginning of college, when his peers led a simple life between school and home, he was suddenly "thrown" into a reality with a very rich grayscale - going to Beijing Railway Station to sketch, and following reporters to various regions of the country for surveys and interviews.


These two important experiences formed Lu Hang's understanding of the concept of "seeing" in art. He believes that sight includes not only the two meanings of "seeing" and "listening," but also requires seeing the hidden side of things.

From high school and for four years, Lu Hang went to the Beijing train station to sketch three to four days a week. It was a suggestion from his father and also a tradition among Chinese art students. There, he saw people of all shapes and faces.


A mother lost her wallet, with her household booklet and ID card, and cried at the entrance of the station holding her young child. She was disheveled and desperate, and when she cried to the extreme, a kind of resolute dignity emerged in her expression. The police gave her money, and she softly said, what's the use of this money?


A shy monk, at first, didn't want to be painted by a stranger. When he learned that Lu Hang was a high school student and the painting was for practicing his skills, and that he could go to the Academy of Fine Arts if he practiced well, the monk said, then paint.

A thief, because he often encountered Lu Hang, avoided him when he began: "I'll find the next one."


In pursuit, being chased with a group of homeless people, a phrase floated from behind: "You, dirty painter!"


Painting the peaceful sleep of a child in the noisy waiting room, he was moved to the point where he couldn't help but look again and again, and for the first time, he felt the greed of vision and the meaning of painting.


He followed reporters to sites such as AIDS-affected villages, the conversion of farmland into forests, mining accidents, etc.


Sitting in the luxurious car of a wealthy man, listening to his project to change the world, through the car window, he saw an old man hunched over pushing a small cart full of cardboard and papers to sell waste, passing by slowly.


In the drilling team, he encountered a blowout accident. The workers plugged the well leak cursing the quality of the stone powder. When he came up from the mine, his whole body and the stone powder merged into one color.


During an interview, their car nervously raced along the dangerous mountain road all day long. In the heat, he squatted under the tree with the reporters and ate the sweetest watermelon ever tasted...


These experiences subtly sparked Lu Hang's interest in this world and in people. When people succeed, he also feels that those ordinary people who have not been recorded in history sing their own songs of joy and sorrow. Death, blood, and tears, despair, cries, numbness, smiles, behind every face, there is an indescribable fate. People and the world form a deeply complex and contradictory feeling in Lu Hang's heart.


If one cannot see others, the world will present a smooth and blurred appearance. Once one touches upon the shocking moments of others' destinies, the texture and roughness of the world will emerge. As a teenager, painting made Lu Hang feel that he had drawn a line with the people around him, giving him a sense of identity that was his own. After seeing so much in the world, Lu Hang felt that he was no different from others, and he quietly erased this psychological boundary line. Fundamentally, he believes that he is one with everyone, and there is no difference between people in his heart. Living here and living there has no essential superiority. From the perspective of human history, times change, but people seem to live similar destinies over and over again.


This destined Lu Hang's creative path and direction. He is interested in everything, from the origin of people to their final departure, and is fascinated by the folds and depths of human nature. His vigorous curiosity and desire for exploration make him not only want to reach the summit but also to dive into the depths of the sea. His works have no hesitation or evasion in exploring human nature, and they exhaustively describe the dark color at the bottom of human nature. Among them, there is a kind of fiery bravery and audacity, as well as a broader sense of sadness and compassion.


This is Lu Hang's fundamental thought and response to "why do I paint?"



Lu Hang's creative output is quite significant, and behind every genre and style, there is a research system that concerns him. Under the support of this rigorous creative logic, his works, whether in the extension of the content of a single genre or in the ideological expansion across genres, form an internal logical connection and echo. The formation of this creative thinking is the most important thinking about artistic creation that Lu Hang received during his studies in France, that is, how to construct and how to deconstruct.


As a research-focused creator, behind every genre and style, Lu Hang will revolve around a central point, conduct in-depth research and extensive reading. His reading interests and scope are vast and deep, involving a large amount of literature, politics, religion, psychology, economics, sociology, anthropology, etc., which build a solid creative thinking of Lu Hang and lay the foundation for him to master various and rich genres.


Lu Hang's initial creative style was deeply influenced by George Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz, two German neo-expressionist artists. Baselitz's artistic style is characterized by the inversion of the subject and finger painting, with a rough and spontaneous quality that directly appeals to the viewer's intuition. Lüpertz is known for his versatile and strong visual impact. His works are filled with reflections on history and reality, notably his series "Arcadia" created over the last decade, which is filled with imagination about Humanity's past history and its distant future.


After apparently exhausting the possibilities of this series of explorations, especially with the outbreak of the global pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, and world wars, the questions Lu Hang had been pondering since his adolescence resurfaced: What is the significance of painting for this era? What can art bring to this world? Why do artists exist?


During this period, Lu Hang's creative style was inspired by Henri Matisse, a French fauvist painter, Francisco Goya, a Spanish artist, and Poussin, a French classical artist. Matisse's free image structure, vibrant colors, and themes imbued with a deep love for the world and people, as well as Goya's bold use of color, strong visual impact, bizarre and varied painting style, imagination, and direct confrontation with the coldness of reality, as well as Poussin's established paradigm of expression from classicism and their respective life experiences, gave Lu Hang a new understanding of the relationship between art and the world.


In 2022, Lu Hang, who had studied and lived in France for ten years, was invited to return to China as a tutor of the International Art Workshop at his alma mater, the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. It was during the epidemic prevention and control period, and the last class was temporarily changed to an online course. That day, in addition to the more than ten workshop students mentored by Lu Hang, there were over fifty additional online auditors.


At the end


 of the class, Lu Hang said, "Let's all turn on our cameras, I want to see you on this last day." When the cameras were turned on, he saw three or four heads behind the camera, and the entire dormitory was crowded. This situation deeply touched Lu Hang, and he finally said "goodbye" to each unknown face behind the cameras.


Among the many experiences of Lu Hang, this detail is like a metaphorical act: taking a glimpse at what is behind, is it a specific person, or the truth of the world, or the essence of things?


During this year's workshop class, facing the students' works, Lu Hang was once moved and saddened to the point of having to take a brief pause to calm his emotions. He found that some experiences have an almost irreversible impact on people. Under the generally strong, oppressive, confronting, sad, and evasive emotional works, Lu Hang said to his students, "I would rather you never have to endure this, you can do without this burden, just represent a light and shadow, a color variation, a harmless fragment of ordinary life."


These moments that touched Lu Hang, and his past experiences, grant him a strong empathy. He had been treated sincerely, dignifiedly, and fairly by his teacher, and he faced his students in the same way.


In Lu Hang's overall artistic and emotional reflection, he underwent a major change, shifting from "disenchantment" to "re-enchantment" of human nature. Years of living abroad and traveling experiences around the world have broadened his vision and feelings. His works have also evolved, moving from the usual series of heavy oil paintings to the exploration of varied styles such as light collage and watercolor, discreetly injecting a trace of reconciliation, gentleness, and warmth into the usually cold and sharp emotions. Everything seems to enter him more deeply, and everything does not stay where it has always ended.


For Lu Hang, the best day is every ordinary day when he has "spent the whole day painting." When he was traveling for professional reasons and had to leave his studio for almost a month, he posted a message on WeChat Moments:


"I remember, when I was a child, playing with my friends in the apartment complex. It was dark, and under the blue light of the sky, I gradually saw the soft tungsten lights of each family turn on and escape through the windows onto the street. At that moment, I suddenly realized that I had played for too long and that I had to go home.


I really want to return to the studio as soon as possible, there are so many paintings, still waiting for me to paint them."


An image followed these words: A golden wheat field stretches from the front to the distant. There is a barely visible village on the horizon. Above the village, a vast and distant sky is covered with clouds.


Like a metaphorical call to painting for Lu Hang.

这些经历潜移默化地令路航对这个世界产生了兴趣,对人产生了兴趣。在得意者高歌的时候,他同时也感受到那些未被载入史册的普通人也在低吟属于自己的欢歌和悲歌。死亡、血泪、绝望、哭泣、麻木、微笑,每一张面孔的背后,都是一个难以尽述的命运。人与世界在路航心中,形成了一种更为复杂与矛盾的深重感。 如果看不见他者,世界会呈现出一种平滑与朦胧,一旦触探到他者命运中的惊心时刻,世界的肌理与粗粝感就呈现出来。少年时,画画令路航感到自己与周围的人建立起一个区隔线,为他赋予了独属于自己的一种身份感。在见识了那么多的世相后,路航感到自己与所有人并没有不同,他从心理上悄然将那条区隔线擦除了。本质上,他认为自己与所有人是一体的,人在他心里并没有区别,生活在此地与生活在彼地,也并不具有本质上的优越性。从人类大历史的维度来看,时代流转,但人似乎都反复经历着相似的命运。 这注定了路航的创作道路与方向,他对人的由来到最终离去的一切历程感兴趣,对人性深处的褶皱深度着迷,他蓬勃的好奇心与探索欲望,使他不仅要抵达高峰,也要沉入深海。他的作品在人性的探索方面丝毫没有半点扭捏与回避之态,一路穷尽地描绘着人性的悲凉底色,这其中有一种热血般的勇猛、无畏,以及更广阔的伤感与悲悯。 这是路航对于“我为什么画画”产生的根本性思考与回答。

路航的创作体量较为庞大,每一类题材与风格背后,都是围绕于此而展开的一个研究体系。在这种严密的创作逻辑支撑下,他的作品无论是从单一题材的内容延展,还是纵贯到题材与题材间的思想拓展,都形成了一个内在逻辑上的关联与呼应。这种创作思维的形成,是路航在法国学习期间,接受的最重要的关于艺术创作的思维训练,即如何建构与如何解构。 作为一个研究型的创作者,在每一个题材与风格背后,路航都会绕着一个中心点,进行深度的研究与扩展式阅读。他的阅读兴趣与范围广博而深入,涉及大量文学、政治、宗教、心理、经济、社会及人类学等,这构筑起了路航稳固的创作思想,为他驾驭多元而丰富的题材奠定了基础。 路航创作风格前期深受乔治·巴塞利兹和马库斯·吕贝尔茨两位德国新表现主义艺术家的影响。巴塞利兹的艺术风格以颠倒主题和用手指绘画为特点,具有一种粗犷、自发的品质,直接吸引观者的直觉。吕贝尔茨则以变化多端和强烈的视觉冲击力著称。他的作品充满对历史的沉思和对现实的省悟,尤其是他近十年创作的“阿卡迪亚”系列,充溢着对人类过往历史和遥远未来的想象。 这种饱含哲思的艺术创作风格对路航产生着重要影响,使得他的作品具有主体性和个性的姿态,将光亮与隐幽的人性侧面呈现在自己的作品中。从路航的创作主题和脉络着手,可以见证他在围绕人性的探索上,经历的一个完整的闭环思考和实践,总结来说就是对人性的“祛魅”和对人性的“复魅”两个主要倾向上。


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