LU QIAN, ARCHITECT AND PAINTER
Participating in 2008 to a conference at the University of Tianjin dedicated to the preservation of the historical monumental heritage, I met Lu Qian and I was fascinated by her personal story because, as she told me, after doing her military service in the Navy for 12 years achieving the rank of lieutenant, since she was forbidden to leave the country in the next five years, she enrolled at the university taking a degree in architecture.
I remember that, also attracted by her austere appearance, I took some pictures of her and on my return to Italy I painted the portrait you see here on display. After some time I had the pleasant surprise of welcoming her here in Milan where she came to follow a doctoral course at the Polytechnic.
Having had the opportunity to frequent her very little because of her confidentiality, her psychological and cultural profile remains enigmatic for me because her interests are very varied and even architecture, an extremely concrete discipline that seemed to be her main interest, has undergone, in her interpretation, a transfiguration in a transcendental sense.
My surprise was great when I saw the paintings exhibited here that, in their abstract concreteness, give back a strongly structured and spatial idea of nature that is in some way architectural. Although they are stones they do not represent masses but structures, they stand rather than encumber.
Lu proposes a theme that derives from the Chinese tradition of the Gongshi, established during the Tang dynasty around the ninth century A.D., which, persisting in modern times, has made this type of rock the object of the consideration that one might accord to works of art. Except that what is really being honored is the force of nature rather than the hand of man.
Reproposing the theme in figurative terms therefore constitutes a misrepresentation of the original meaning of those rocks, because inevitably it is the hand of a human being that intervenes and in representing them inevitably contaminates their meaning and value.
But the transgression that Lu enacts is precisely what finally puts her in relationship with our culture. Without her even realizing it.
Emilio Battisti, October 2021
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)