June 15 – August 4, 1996
There are not many Chinese artists who are well versed in various disciplines. There are those who excel in painting and calligraphy, and there are those who are good seal carvers or sculptors. But to master all of them, and write poetry at the same time, is to possess a rare gift. Lu Huan, whose art works are being exhibited at the Chinese Culture Center, is an artist with such a gift. The CCC is showing fifteen of his animal sculptures, and although this exhibition focuses on his paintings, we couldn’t display more of the sculptures in any event since most of them are now being exhibited at the California Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park.
Lu Huan was born in 1948 in Chende, a city in Hebei Province, China. After graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts at age 21, he became one of the few artists-in-residence at the Palace Museum in Beijing where he lived for sixteen years. In 1989, he and his family came to this country to accompany his solo exhibition which toured many cities in the U.S. In 1993, the Palace Museum in Beijing acquired many of Lu Huan’s works, making him the only living artist whose stone sculptures are collected by that museum. These carvings are superb representations of different species of reptiles, insects, and amphibians found in the animal kingdom. Each animal is carved out from a single piece of stone in exquisite detail. The stones used are found in China and Inner Mongolia, and belong to the pyrophyllite classification.
Lu Huan’s poems are constructed in the classical five- and seven-word verse format. Through the use of sparse imagery, some poems reflect the artist’s reclusive temperament, others reflect the artist’s keen observation of animal behavior. The lyricism of Lu Huan’s poems is recreated visually in his paintings. Using minimum colors, the brushstrokes range from dots to pale washes to sweeping strokes. The solemn effect is alike that of an image seen through hazy daylight.
Lu Huan’s wife, An Lu, is in her own right an accomplished artist. An Lu began learning painting at an early stage from her father. Although born into a family of musicians, oil painters, and professional artists, An Lu credits her husband for her development as an artist. When she married Lu Huan, they both lived at the Palace Museum in Beijing. Enriched by the surrounding art collection and the museum’s resourceful library, An Lu also received guidance from people like Li Keran, Huang Yongyu, and Fan Zeng, who became not only mentors but also friends of An Lu and Lu Huan.
She came to the U.S. with her husband in 1989 and has been teaching since 1994 at the Lincoln University in San Francisco as Assistant Professor of the Arts and Humanities. An Lu has experimented with different subject matters that include landscape, flowers, and animals. Her more recent works reveal an abstract, impressionist-style usage of Chinese ink-and-brush through a freer and more spontaneous brushwork than her early works. The renowned Chinese artist Huang Yongyu wrote a comment on An Lu’s painting The Two Together that sums up her painting style; it reads, “An Lu’s work, like a tiger, is bold and without fear, daring yet not reckless. Let’s hope she will always maintain this attitude.” Funding for this exhibition has been provided in part by the Publicity and Advertising Funds of the San Francisco Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Program; the California Arts Council, a state agency; and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco thanks Lu Huan and An Lu for the loan of the art works.