Lu Chen was born in China, and currently resides in Glasgow, focusing on sound storytelling art, performance art, and conceptual art. 

Lu Chen’s work can be seen as part of Print Unleashed, which runs at Six Foot Gallery until July 18th 2024.

Hi Lu! What emotions or reactions do you hope viewers experience when they see your artwork?
I think this question is related to one of my works, ” Artists hand over the scepter of interpreting artworks to audiences”. As an artwork manipulated by text, I hope that the audience will interpret, explain and judge the artwork based on their experience (this experience can be life experience or aesthetic experience), understanding ability (this is related to language reading ability and logical thinking), thinking, values, and art appreciation ability. As for whether it strikes the audience in terms of concept or even magnetic field, it is a result that the artist cannot control. I think this may also be the special feature of conceptual artworks.

How do you know when a piece is complete?
Sometimes in exhibitions, I hear visitors questioning a work of art: “Is this painting unfinished? Why is there a blank space here? Is it exhibited before it is completed?” This is very interesting. The audience feels that a work may be unfinished if it is not fully painted or some parts are left blank. In traditional Chinese landscape painting, “blank space” is a kind of painting arrangement, which conveys the sense of space and artistic conception and creates the rhythm of the picture. John Baldessari mentioned in his work that is also composed of text: “Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other. Not just placed side by side? Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words. “Therefore, if there is a certain “sense of incompleteness”, it may be an effect deliberately designed by the artist in the creation. For me, no matter what medium and method (visual, sound, words, installation, etc.), as long as it can convey the views and values ​​I want to express, I feel that the work is completed.

How did you arrive at the theme of your work?
About five years ago, artist Jiang Heng was my tutor. In his class, he told us about conceptual artworks and performance art. I was shocked and began to understand, “Oh, art can be like this.” At that time, I had my own public reading platform, where I would post some texts, usually based on my personal experiences or things I realized, and write down my opinions. When I first met Mr. Jiang Heng, he told me that what I wrote was great and asked me to keep going. Later, I created the prototype of “BOUNTY NOTICE”. After a few years, I learned that this work had aroused widespread discussion among my undergraduate school and some graduate and doctoral students, including every artist visiting lecturer tutorials who likes this work very much. At the beginning, I didn’t know that what I wrote and created had a certain conceptual nature. I just liked words. I wanted to use text as an element of the work. To be honest, I was like an indefatigable, lonely person with a desire to talk, trying to tell others what was in my mind through my works which brought me to where I am now.

How has your practice changed over time?
Strictly speaking, the “Bounty Notice” in this exhibition is my first artwork. After that, I created a work called “X-ray of Contemporary Women”, which was a work about criticizing people’s stereotypes about women. Later, my first work in Glasgow was a sound art work “life in the kitchen”. I wrote a sound script about a family story, and then collected the sounds in the kitchen, dubbed, edited, and mixed them. It is actually a feminist work full of metaphors. Then I wrote a feminist story called “double happiness cigarettes”, and then did a very experimental performance art with audience participation, and finally returned to art works related to words. Performance art is combined with poetry, or some conceptual art dominated by words.

How did your artistic journey start?
Two years ago, I created an artwork that transformed a nucleic acid testing swab into a health drink. At that time, a curator who really appreciated my work invited me to exhibit it in a highly prestigious art museum. However, in the end, the museum’s director felt that the piece was somewhat politically sensitive (fearing that the media might misrepresent it), so the artwork was never exhibited, and the best opportunity to showcase it to the audience was missed. This made me realize that I might need to create and seek opportunities in a relatively more liberated environment. Therefore, I decided to leave my previous setting and, for various reasons, ended up in Scotland.

How do you overcome creative blocks?
Stay sensitive. Sometimes I feel that my work is inseparable from the society, environment, life, gender, personal identity, emotions, and values that surround me. Who I am as a person shapes my creativity and the kind of work I produce. Creativity is the core, something that cannot be packaged. When I say “stay sensitive,” I mean to continually put myself in a state of seeking and discovery, amplifying my senses and perceptions, reflecting on and questioning myself, society, or art.

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