Urban Striation 几何城市,城市几何

May 18, 2020 2020年5月18日
City Stream / Shanghai No. 8 (2016) 300 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市经纬 / 上海 No.8》(2016) 200 x 300 厘米 / 布面丙烯

Lu Xinjian is an artist on the vanguard of Chinese abstraction. His paintings reduce vast cityscapes into dynamic studies of color and line that explore the relationship between modernity and the natural world. The microscopic detail in his artworks draws viewers in, even as the huge size –  many works are several meters wide –  compels them to step away. This contrast creates a vitality that imposes itself on the viewer.

Lu’s work is elusive. “It’s always nice for me to see visitors discover the surprise behind my paintings. At first, it appears to be a pure abstraction but then they begin to understand the root of the work,” he says. Working with acrylic on canvas, he painstakingly crafts each hallucinogenic painting line by line, color by color, over months.



City DNA / Xujiahui (2019) 80 x 80 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市基因 / 徐家汇》(2019) 80 x 80 厘米 / 布面丙烯
City DNA / Yu Garden (2019) 80 x 80 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市基因 / 豫园》(2019) 130 x 130 厘米 / 布面丙烯

Lu’s recent paintings, currently on display in a solo show titled Eternal City at Art Labor Gallery in Shanghai, share urban subjects and a vibrant, abstract style. Yet Lu divides them into three distinct series: City DNA, City Stream, and Reflections. The first uses satellite views, the second presents aerial views similar to that of a drone, while the third shows architectural views seen from the ground.

City DNA condenses the dynamic rhythm of the city and places abstraction at the heart of real places in the world. It deconstructs what we see and then reconstructs it in a way that urges the viewer to notice more than just differently hued geometric lines. In Xujiahui, for example, there’s a visceral essence behind the beauty. “It’s very fascinating to play between real and abstract,” says Lu.

近期,陆新建在上海 Art Labor 画廊举办的个展《永恒之城》(Eternal City)中展出了一些最新的作品。这些作品风格统一,将城市场景重塑为活力线条构成的抽象画。陆新建将它们分为三个不同的系列,分别为“城市基因”、“城市经纬”和“倒影”。“城市基因”的灵感是卫星图像、“城市经纬”展现的是无人机上看到的鸟瞰图,而“倒影”则重塑了从地面上看到的建筑视图。


City Stream / Los Angeles (2016) 205 x 145 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市经纬 / 洛杉矶》(2016) 205 x 145 厘米 / 布面丙烯
City Stream / Hong Kong (2016) 400 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市经纬 / 香港》(2016) 300 x 200 厘米 / 布面丙烯

City Stream evolves out of the previous series and adds a sense of motion. “City Stream focuses on the perspective of the city and its systems,” explains Lu. “I want to show the movement and energy through dynamic highways and modern buildings.” To capture the personality of the city, he often uses municipal or national colors to imply an identity.


Reflections / Milano Doumo (Interior) (2018) 130 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《倒影 / 米兰大教堂 (内景)》(2018) 130 x 200 厘米 / 布面丙烯
Reflections / Milano Doumo (Exterior) (2018) 200 x 130 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《倒影 / 米兰大教堂 (外景)》(2018) 200 x 130 厘米 / 布面丙烯

Reflections began as a commission based on pictures of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The project inspired Lu to take his abstraction in a new direction. “I was very moved by those images. It’s so peaceful when the building is reflected in the water with the moon behind it.” Like the other two, this series explores modernity, globalization, and human consciousness.


Reflections / American Congress in Red (2015) 400 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《倒影 / 红色的美国国会》(2015) 400 x 200 厘米 / 布面丙烯
Reflections / Weiming Lake (2016) 200 x 150 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《倒影 / 未名湖》(2016) 200 x 150 厘米 / 布面丙烯

Lu studied at the Frank Mohr Institute at Hanze University in the Netherlands, and the influence of the ZERO and De Stijl movements is evident in his work. However, his aesthetic has roots dating back to his childhood in the countryside in Yixing, in Jiangsu province.

In elementary school, a visiting teacher lit the spark for his artistic career. Seeing that Lu had a keen interest in painting, she asked if he’d like to go to art school one day. “It was the first time anyone had asked me that question,” says Lu. “I didn’t know there were universities in the world where you could study art.” The idea of a life of art lingered with the precocious Lu, and he dreamed of becoming an artist. “My parents thought I was crazy!” he recalls.

Given Lu’s childhood surrounded by nature, one might not expect his art to encompass urban forms. Yet his intricate works show the simple ways a child imagines complex systems such as global cities. What Lu does is to reduce these complexities to meticulous geometric shapes and sharp blocks of color, at once visually stimulating and tantalizingly simple.

曾就读于荷兰汉斯大学 Frank Mohr 学院的陆新建,其作品中受 ZERO 艺术运动和荷兰风格派运动(De Stijl)的影响非常明显。但是,乡村生活也对他的美学风格有很大的影响,因为他的童年正是在江苏宜兴农村度过的。



City DNA / Paris No.4 (2016) 400 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市基因 / 巴黎 No.4》(2016) 400 x 200 厘米 / 布面丙烯
City DNA / Pudong (2012) 400 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市基因 / 浦东》(2012) 400 x 200 厘米 / 布面丙烯
City DNA / Beijing No.7 (2016) 400 x 200 cm / Acrylic on canvas 《城市基因 / 北京 No.8》(2016) 400 x 200 厘米 / 布面丙烯

Today, Lu puts on solo exhibitions all over the world, and his work is in collections from Europe to Asia to Australia. His paintings have a certain stillness, a challenge to the ritualized abstract expressionism prevalent in contemporary art. His work pushes at the very edges of abstract art in China and points to pure possibilities for a new beginning.


Eternal City

April 18th, 2020 ~ May 31st, 2020

101 Haifang Road
Jing’an District, Shanghai

Appointment only by phone or e-mail

+86 21 6245 6963





2020 年 5 月 23 日至 2020 年 6 月 7 日

海防路 101 号


+86 21 6245 6963


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Contributor: Misha Maruma
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
Images Courtesy of ART LABOR Gallery & Lu Xinjian

Like our stories? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


供稿人: Misha Maruma
英译中: Olivia Li
图片由 ART LABOR画廊与陆新建提供