"Looking for harmony – lines between lines, dots between dots"


Lu Xinjian was born in 1977, in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, China. Along with his tea farming parents, Lu Xinjian grew up in a small village surrounded by bamboo mountains. From a low-income background, his parents only expected him to find a job right after middle school and live next to them. It is a tradition that parents build a big house and split-half with their kid after marriage.

By chance, an intern teacher from Nanjing arrived in his town when Lu Xinjian was 13 years old. The teacher showed great interest in his drawings and asked him if he wanted to go to art school in the future. Lu Xinjian was shocked, it was the first time in his life that he had heard that there were art and design schools in the world. He started to have those romantic and colorful images in his mind and soon told his parents and friends. They thought he was crazy! It was almost impossible to get to high school, since it is mandatory to be among the top 5 in school, and still, there is a chance of rejection by the university, so often students will be laughed at by classmates and even by teachers.  Yet as a stubborn boy, he insisted on his dream and soon after he was accepted by high school, his dream was beginning to materialize. When he was applying for university, his teacher thought his paintings were insignificant and advised him to apply for graphic design. Indeed, that was a piece of good advice, it helped him a lot at the beginning of his career.

 In 2007,  Lu Xinjian's fiance fell in love with a colleague and left him, he was devastated. He decided to accept the invitation from Yeungnam University in Korea and left Shanghai for the next two years. With only 7 working hours per week in the school, and with the remaining time, Lu Xinjian gave himself to art at his studio. Slowly but surely, he started to pick up his dream, with the difficulties of moving forward and not knowing even how to stretch canvas. He learned from his students and also discussed with his professor Petri Leijdekkers, the former head of Frank Mohr Institute in the Netherlands. Petri liked his linear drawings and always encouraged him to have a try. Suggesting Lu Xinjian the names of artists and works as a point of reference during his experiments. It was a long, slow and painful process, confusion and doubt always surrounded him at the possibility of never becoming an artist. However, a book was what would change the course of his artistic career. It was suggested by his professor Petri Leijdekkers: "De Stiji". Lu Xinjian found this book perfect for himself, learning a lot from the practice of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Lu Xinjian started to look for harmony between line and space.

Lu Xinjian takes us on a unique journey through places we’ve always presumed to know. His incredibly precise paintings of aerial views have a rather intimate quality to them. One can see and feel the dedication and allegiance he has with each piece. Lu Xinjian’s paintings give us the freedom to experience something new from something ordinary, a chance to let our minds break free from the traditional and step into the exciting world of the avant-garde. 

Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career?

A. When I realized my first concept City DNA, Martin Kemble, the owner of Art Labor Gallery, offered me a solo show in 2010, it was well-received and sold many paintings, it was a very good start to my art career. Our first collector came before the opening, he walked around for 15 minutes and asked Martin: Can I buy some paintings? Martin said: Do you want me to explain the concept? He said: No, I understand it completely, here is my credit card. Martin thought it was a joke in the first second, he also didn't open his machine. Later, I decided to look for other collaborations in Beijing, I met Fabien Fryns, he had two galleries in Beijing and Los Angeles, he immediately loved my concept and practice. We've had a successful collaboration until now. He became a good colleague, but also a great friend to me.

Q. What role does the Artist/ Painter have in society?  

A. To inspire others...

Q. What’s your best childhood memory?

A. It's a great life treasure that I suffered yet fought for my future during my childhood, I learned a lot. This is very important and meaningful to my life.

Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A. I wished to be a traditional Chinese artist.

Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?

A. I copied a drawing from a classic bench. There was a tiger climbing down from a mountain.   

Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?

A. When I was studying in the Netherlands in 2004, I loved their free expression in art and design.

Q. What does your art aim to express?  

A. conceptual thinking, harmony of space, meditation, new technology. 

Q. If you could work with any artist (past or present) who would it be?

A. Zero art movement, an artist group founded in Düsseldorf by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. 

Q. What inspires you?

A. I enjoy reading. It helps me think. I don't get inspiration directly from some objects, it slowly comes from my working process and daily meditation.

Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

A. stubborn

Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?

A. I have had to sacrifice my wife's career, we have two daughters, I can't take care of them without her. Sometimes, I need her help during my working process. She was a medical scientist, but she became a housewife. We don't complain about it, it's all about the happiness of our family. We can't have everything in life.

Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?

A. I was influenced by many artists, especially De Stiji artists and Zero movement.

Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

A. Life is always lonely, that's why we should keep ourselves busy.

Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?

A. I love to travel and meet interesting people.

Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?

A. This is always a big question to me. I don't know how to answer. I always try my best to do what I love!

Q. What does 'success' mean to you?

A. Being happy while doing what I like, and satisfied as long as I can make enough living for my family. I don't want to give myself too much pressure on SUCCESS. Life is just a long process.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?

A. Petri Leijdekkers is always advising me to keep sharp and not compromise too much!

Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?

A. I really don't know, it's still a long way for me...


Lu Xinjian in Conversation with White Rabbit

Luise Guest, the director of education and research at White Rabbit Collection sits down with Lu Xinjian to discuss his personal history and his creativity.