Author: LUO ZHONGLI 罗中立
Signed and dated: Painted in 1991
Final Price: unsold
1992 Main Land China Fine Arts Collection 1 - Luo Zhongli / P124 / Artist Pbulishing
signed in Chinese & pinyin and dated 1991
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1980s witnessed the wave of “native” art—telling stories of China in Chinese—in the contemporary Chinese art circles， with Sichuan Fine Arts Institute as the base. During this period， many painters， through a combination of the realist approach applied in Western oil painting and folk customs with Chinese characteristics， have liberated the creation of Chinese oil painting from the ideological shackle of “revolutionary， glorious， perfect” images during the Great Cultural Revolution. The painters then turned to observe and display the emotions and mental status of ordinary individuals in their real life， which finally contributed to the historical transformation of contemporary Chinese arts. Luo Zhongli， an outstanding painter of this period， was never divorced from the “native” characteristic in his journey of arts， and he always persists in exploring unique expressions with highly contemporary consciousness from the local cultural context and traditions.
Luo’s artistic style， which can be divided into two phases， gradually transits from the more strict realism to expressionism with more freedom. In the first phase is deeply rooted the “native” side of arts， while the “contemporary” side is more fiercely demonstrated in the following second phase. Despite the transformation of the artistic language， his works always center on rural people， which originates from his great affection for Daba Mountain. After the impressive period in the area as a volunteer teacher， Luo realized that rural people， as the grass-root majority of China， exert great influence upon the shaping of national characters. Therefore， by in-depth exploration and display of rural people’s real life， Luo intends to reveal the warm and kind nature hidden in the mind of all Chinese people from every ordinary but lively scene. As for the specific features， the two phases are also different in the artistic situations of creations. While the painter shows in the earlier phase his great sympathy for and praise of rural people living the difficult life， the creations in the later phase， based on the former， are much more romantic and they manage to construct the ideal life prospect full of primitive but simple beauty of nature.
Awakening from Dream and Grinding at Night created in the year of 1991 both belong to Luo’s second phase. Drawing materials from the ordinary daily details， the painter created vivid and dramatic figures with strong visual tension through the use of heavy colors and complicated drawings. The figure drawing in Awakening from Dream smartly draws lessons from cubism and the style of the tribe art， while the surrounding environment seems to be fully of log quality and texture via the color， light and drawing， contributing to the warm and unsophisticated picture. Through the figures’ exaggerated actions and miens， the audience is strongly immersed in the situation where the parents feel so anxious and upset when discovering the missing of their child at night. In contrast， the child asleep at the unnoticed corner， the tender light on him and the cute cat nearby turns the dramatic tension to humor with warmth.
While Father created by the photorealistic approach in 1980 lays the foundation of Luo’s fame in contemporary Chinese oil painting， the shift to primitive expressionism in the early 1990s is another peak of his artistic creation. Taking audience back to the primitive status characteristic of humanism， the painter presents the unsophisticated nature not contaminated yet by modern industrial civilization with the sincere hope of nature returning to the primitive unsophistication.