chinese contemporary art
Artists >> Lu Peng

As with the majority of artists of his generation, those born during the Cultural Revolution, Lu Peng is preoccupied with the metamorphosis of Chinese society. The new market economy is voraciously appropriating spheres formerly the sole domain of the communist party. Propaganda posters have been replaced with commercial advertising. Communal canteens have lost out to McDonalds. American films like Titanic draw the crowds that once flocked to the Revolutionary Operas. Conformist communist pigtails have been spurned in favour of western cosmetics guaranteed to enhance one's quality of life.

Lu Peng's works are a collection of personal experiences, memories and fantasies, a metaphor for the estrangement and intimacy of contemporary China. The technique is traditional Chinese, ink and colour on paper, while the subject matter is everything but traditional, a chaotic and fascinating mix of the traditional, the communist and the consumer. Fragments of classical Chinese architecture and landscape are interrupted by skyscrapers. Deities from the past cavort with fashion goddesses of the present who sport the red arm band of the members of the ubiquitous neighbourhood surveillance committees or, on their backs, red flags from the Chinese opera. In recent works, walls symbolise present day society - the blindness of one side to the other and the still inscrutable nature of much of the administration's doings. In the Capital Nights series Lu Peng focusses on the night life of Beijing, a novelty in the communist capital imported from the West. He feels people are more themselves and less on their guard in the clubs and cafes of the night. As the artist says "We live in front of tradition, we live behind the vanguard. Our address - the edge of Paradise."