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Li Donglu – The Nature of Nature

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
19 January, 2017
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
11 March, 2017
Event Category:

Li Donglu , born in 1982, Guangdong, China, graduated from The Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and French Versailles Academy of Fine Arts. He has lived and worked in Pairs, France since 2004. His works have been exhibited around the world. Donglu Li has formed his own painting style by studying the western drawings of the Middle Ages to modern western works of drawing, exploring the different drawing method combined with western and Chinese culture, reflecting on the relations among human beings, nature and the universe.

In ancient times, people “obtained images from observing so the Eight Diagrams was created by observing”; afterwards people “got the intended meanings from observing images”. The former “image” can be explained as “images of the trigrams” whereas the latter “image” implies the meaning of “shape and profile” i.e. abstracting the intended meanings from observing the shape and profile of the things. The ancient artists always attached importance to intended meanings on their landscape paintings after internalizing and refining the landscape time and time again. And then the ancient artists drew the charm of landscape by using smooth lines combined with changes of Chinese ink painting, which presented audiences a feeling of visiting the landscape in person.

During 12 years’ stay in France, Li Donglu developed a unique painting method by combining western drawing method of describing details with Chinese traditional drawing way of “getting the intended meanings from observing images”. The differences between Chinese traditional drawing way of expressing images and realism of western drawing method are not obstacles in Li Donglu’s paintings on which present the “images” from observing as well as “intentions” of his understandings.

People may think that the scenes painted by Li Donglu are in sight but we will find that the scenes presented on his paintings never happened in life if we carefully observe his paintings. The dark atmosphere on his paintings reminds us that the scenes are nothing but a dreamland. The painting method of describing details endows an unrealistic sense of future. Fantastic implications are conveyed by knocking all the things together in abnormal ways. On his paintings, Li Donglu uses an intuitive method to express his commemoration to the past and the anxiety after observing-the dry land, a piece of broken melting ice, the spread of fire, the smoke filled on a half of the painting…

Li Donglu always presents Chinese and western traditional landscape by using modern drawing method with sharp observation and exquisite drawing. He invites audiences to integrate into the “images” that he created.


These lands are not spoiled by blood; these rocks are not carved by hands; and no hand comes to save these burned trees while no foot could ever cross the frozen water; no one could either grasp these crystalline icebergs or breath in these menacing smoke. We are not afraid, we just feel that something here is summoning us, attracting us, pushing us away and leaving us an echo to face our inconsolable solitude. It is a world that resembled the world we know and, yet, it excluded us. If it hardly gives us an echo, it is because it has already lived in our mind and has taken root in our soul.

The pictorial and spiritual power of Li Donglu’s artworks is that he knows how to lead us to the edge of the abyss that haunts us. If we believe in what we know, we know only one thing: some decisions can lead to the opposite result of the one we hoped for.

This block of ice on a floe is not shored up by anything and yet it does not sink. However, there’s a rock among three, which standing on a cloud of ice, begins to disappear. It’s a strong signal of a fall. Almost completely surrounded by a rising smoke, these blocks of stone evoke the change in their massive solitude, not the one that occurs when someone sings, but the one that arrives when, by the thought, someone stands on the crest of silence.

Does this pine, which seems to grow up in the sky, have roots? We hesitate to answer, because no answer, filled with the words of reasons, can resonate with what our heart feel when we look at them.


Conversion of view

Having a stagnant river on its foot, this mountain is everything instead of a mountain if we see it in detail. Here, as in all paintings, nothing is true in the sense of realism, but everything is true in the sense of thought. These stones are accumulated ruins, broken human constructions, which become dust again.

This painting offers us a “memento mori” and a suggestion to convert our view to history.

Nature and life are stronger than the artwork. However, by making this truth emergent, the artwork is greater than Human’s obstinacy to stack stones, even those from a palace.

A painting carries us to the heart of a strange forest. It is so green but also so translucent that the trees seem to live in the underwater memory of the earth.

Then, by rethinking these arid worlds and this singular forest and tying to make our time spent in unremitting work, we understand that Li Donglu leads us, in each of his paintings, to the crest where only a deeply respectful meditation of Earth’s eternity can enable us to sustain. Also, watching these artworks with a metamorphosed view, we approach ourselves to what the artist has been lived when he painted.


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