Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Renaissance man comes to Ketchum

Chinese painter Andrew Lui crosses cultures

Express Staff Writer

"Deep Blue" by Andrew Lui. Acrylic and ink on rice paper at Gallery DeNovo.

"I call it China Chop Suey," said artist Andrew Lui in broken English. "But the art is so much more. It is very decorative, sophisticated and highly collectible."

Lui's work looks like an explosion, but there is method to the madness. He uses a variety of brushes and cuts expensive rice paper into several sizes. His colors are dynamic, happy and positive, and his art feels good to look at. In addition, Lui mounts several of his pieces in a Chinese mount, in which the rice paper is folded back under the frame.

Lui has an extensive academic art background, having studied history of art criticism at the University of London, Renaissance study at the British Institute, art at the Acadamia Belle Arti in Florence, Italy, and art at the Ontario College of Art.

"Art speaks to all," Lui said. "And I paint for myself."

Lui was born in 1951 in Canton (Guangzhou), China. At the age of 19, he swam to Hong Kong and lost five years of education. He has studied art and architecture for most of his life and has exhibited his works in galleries and museums throughout the world. He lives in Montreal, where he owns and manages his own gallery.

"They are not sketches," Lui said of his current show, "Cantabile," at Gallery DeNovo in Ketchum. "I do have some smaller pieces, which are just ink."

Lui's work explores the contrast of Eastern and Western civilizations, revealing ancient formations such as letters and characters through a post-modern, abstract style. The rice paper Lui uses is very thin and absorbs paint, creating abstract forms, and with several layers of paint takes on a new surface.

Lui said he follows a Zen philosophy, which is more in line with southern China's ideals. His studies in sculpture, composition and shape as well as his collection of African sculpture are constantly incorporated in his work. He is a world traveler and has owned several types of companies, from an architecture firm to woodworking factories.

"In China, after so many years, you are a master," Lui said. "It comes out."

A book on Lui's work is in the process for publication.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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