展期：2022-05-28 ~ 2022-07-03
儘管蒐羅多年，藏納在他匣櫃內的觀賞物件，直到近年才成為他再現的對象。從裸露姣好軀體，挑逗意淫情趣的女性玩偶，到令人直呼可愛，惹人愛憐，或是饒富魅力，別具風姿的動物瓷像，都是他的主題。玩偶物件成為呂浩元近期常見的靜物題材，同時勾喚了一種既世俗，卻又不乏神祕與詭奇的氣息。這些昔日的物件入畫以後，沒有意外地引人懷舊之感。雖然是通俗，甚至量化生產的擺設品，卻因為藝術家在畫中的獨特對待與處理手法，散發出迷人的光暈，成了名副其實的「欲望之物」（objects of desire）。
為能逼真再現瓷器表面的光滑亮感及其圓潤的立體凹凸，呂浩元改變了初期的油彩厚塗風格，從強調筆觸肌理的表現主義，逐漸地趨向古典寫實技法，有時甚至能讓觀者產生誤以為真的錯覺（trompe l’oeil）效果。到了後來，即使他畫中的人物或動物形象，並非取材自瓷器玩偶，他依然賦予仿若雕塑的質感。 與上述的皮格馬利翁恰恰相反，呂浩元儘管將瓷器玩偶的眼神、形體、質感描摹得呼之欲出，但他似乎更樂於維持這樣的視覺弔詭，寧可將不言明的人性、本能、欲望封存於瓷器的物形之中，而不祈求將其真實化。與其掀開潘朵拉的盒子，呂浩元與他的欲望之物維持了一定的美感距離，而不耽溺。
The Sheltered Paradise: The Work of LU Hao-yuan
Chia Chi Jason Wang
In his epic Metamorphoses, the ancient Roman poet Ovid tells of a single sculptor named Pygmalion who, with immaculate skills, creates a woman statue with whom he falls in love. Smitten with infatuation, he makes his offering at the altar and prays to to Venus, the goddess of love, to bring the statue to life and make her his beautiful bride. In answer to his heartfelt prayer, the goddess turns the cold ivory statue into life, her body warm and soft to the touch. They unite in marriage, and Venus attends their wedding.
“Metamorphosis” is a recurring theme in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. It is common for the gods to petrify humankind – a severe punishment tantamount to death. Sometimes, the gods transform a displeasing human into an animal. The story of Pygmalion is relatively rare in which the gods grant the wish of an artist by bringing the inanimate creation of the latter to life. Whatever the form of metamorphosis, all are projections of desire in gods and humans alike.
Over years of artistic adventure with objects, Lu Hao-yuan has collected a miscellany of human and animal images, with a particular relish for porcelain dolls with erotic connotations. As mirrors of popular culture, these sensuous objects have come from varied sources. They are mostly exotic, reflecting fetishes of all times and places. While the shapes and postures of the dolls might look like a fleeting fad, the human desires subtly entailed or projected are always universal. In his paintings, Lu represents porcelain dolls, not purely artistic in nature, in a way that not only breathes life into them, but highlights their smooth, delicate and glistening appearance.
Despite years of collecting, only until recent years have the ornamental objects stored in his cabinets become his subjects of representation. They span from beautifully nude, tantalizing female dolls to porcelain animal figurines that are either lovely and adorable, or charmingly alluring. The dolls and figurines, which have been prevailing in Lu’s recent works as still-life subjects, evoke a secular ambience not without a mysterious peculiarity. These old objects in his paintings have undoubtedly evoked a sense of nostalgia. Commonplace or mass-produced as the ornaments are, the artist treats and handles them in such a distinctive way that transforms them into “objects of desire” with an entrancing glow.
To realistically represent the smooth and shiny surface of and rounded, three-dimensional quality on the ceramics, Lu has demonstrated a shift from his earlier style of thick oil painting. He has gradually switched from expressionist brushstrokes and texture to classical, realistic techniques, sometimes giving the viewers the illusion of trompe l’oeil. So much so that there is a sculptural quality to even the figures and animals not represented from real porcelain dolls in his paintings. Unlike Pygmalion, Lu seems to relish the idea to preserve the visual paradox, while portraying their eyes, forms, and texture with great vividness. He prefers to keep the unspoken human nature, instinct and desire sealed in the physical form of the ceramics, rather than turing them into life. Instead of opening the Pandora’s box, Lu maintains an aesthetic distance from his objects of desire without indulgence.
Suggestively and implicitly, desire and longing often lurk in the details or hides from sight in Lu’s paintings in the form of erotic fantasy. In contrast, a jungle or garden of plants become an alternative Eden, a haven for human desires. In the initial stage, the plants were just potted in a corner of the living space, or contained in a bottle as delightful ornaments on the table. Gradually, the plants have begun to spread and show a desire to grow, ultimately filling up the scene. Lu has a fondness for flowering plants in particular. As genitals of plants, the flowers in full blossom are associated with exuberant vitality and reproductiveness.
The sprawling plants constitute an isolated and self-sufficient world, where the artist places the objects of his desire, creating a cozy, marginal atmosphere. While peace and partial tranquillity seem to reign, Lu often manages to conceal unease and danger deep in the jungle or garden, which dramatically reinforces the psychological needs of the figures and animals for protection in the paintings. Indeed, the threat of death remains ubiquitous, even in an Arcadia like this. Compared to the flamboyant plants, the figures and animals inhabiting it appear relatively frail. The artist takes great care of these porcelain dolls, attending to their delicate and lustrous surface as if fearing to leave traces of damage.
They can be porcelain dolls in a physical form, or human and animal imagery with a ceramic look. The artist has faithfully transformed these objects or image simulacrums into carriers of desire, where there is no lack of projected emotions and desires. The images in Lu’s paintings are either of enchanting, luscious women, or of temptingly cute animals. They have an erotic and inviting air about them, intentionally or unintentionally disturbing the viewers’ moral comfort. While the plants may not be capable of consciousness and thinking, the competing flowers exhibit a breeding instinct. Through the images of plants and flowers, Lu seems to suggest, in a metaphorical way, that there is an underlying desire or reproductive impulse in human nature.
Recently, Lu has nurtured a hobby of collecting raw minerals, ranging from malachite, agate, crystal, apophyllite, prophecy stones (limonite) to zeolites, which are commonly seen on his studio’s desk. The relationship between gemstones and astrology has its ancient origins. The idea that crystal-shaped energy stones have healing effects on the body and mind dates back to over a thousand years ago. Despite not being a devout believer of astrology or folk healing, Lu is fascinated by the enigmatic quality and texture of the raw minerals resulting from specific geological conditions.
Inanimate as they are, the rocks in the stratum have been symbiotic with the earth. Having undergone crustal movements and accumulation for more than ten million years, they have their own mode of birth and formation. With a seemingly disorderly quality to their appearance and cross-sectional lines at a closer look, the raw minerals demonstrate organic changes and inexplicable rules of growth without a definite shape. While the Creator’s intention remains a puzzle, the artist has noticed the intriguing natural beauty through the various samples in his collection, which becomes the theme of his latest paintings. With their distinct shape and texture, the raw minerals extracted from the earth have metamorphosed into an unfathomable universe characterized by anonymity, uncertainty, singularity and mystery. Compared to the plant garden as we have previously seen, Lu creates a chaotic world, a return to a more primitive state. As new quadrants unfold, he continues to conjure up a Genesis narrative of his own in a larger time and space.