Depth of Desire
Source:Artintern Author:Li Xu Date: 2008-10-29 Size:
Luo Fahui was borned in Chongqing City in 1961. He graduated from Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts in 1985.


Since the beginning of the 1990s, in the mainland of China, many of artists have begun to flirt with the international artistic circles by the local cultural symbols filled with exoticisms and the ideological theme in the post-war time. Their aim is very obviously at those curators in the large-scale international exhibitions and those collectors around them. The phenomenon gradually becomes the mainstream of Chinese contemporary arts abroad. In addition to it, however, there is still another branch that is often ignored by people, and that is much more inclination to the artistic creation itself, and more emphasis on the experiment with individual language and formation of artistic manner. So many cases in the history of art indicate that any illustration in some times would lose their original sociological significance along with that the time passes away, and only those works that are beyond time and space could attain a real eternality because of the value of artworks themselves.

Luo Fahui was borned in Chongqing City in 1961. He graduated from Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts in 1985. Since that time, he has been much enamoured with the quest for artistic form. From the past landscapes, characters to the flowers today, the subject matter in his works has been simple and different from other painters. For many years, he individually has expressed representational themes almost with an abstract attitude. He pays attention not on the stories behind the picture planes, but only on the surfaces themselves. As for the stories in his works, they should be of critics and lookers.

In 1999, Luo Fahui painstakingly magnified the original images of flowers that used to be sprinkled over on the surfaces of his works. Finally, he even allowed one flower to occupy the whole picture plane of one work. Many artists in the 20th century, such as Georgia O'keeffe and Nobuyushi Araki, try to stimulate the sensory organs of viewers through the different and attractive images of flowers. Lu Fahui obviously belongs to one of their inheritors. He intervenes in the creative space in art that is most simple but most challenging with his own way.

There was a writer who once said: “ the first man who liken women to flowers is a talent, the second a mediocre person, and the third a blunderbuss”. Thus it can be seen that the theme of flowers seems simple, actually, it is how difficult to represent it well. However, on the basis of this cause, to consider the images of flowers as a medium of language in order to finally transcend artistic form itself through a special idea, this becomes a dream of many artists

. According to the traditional culture in China, man likes to call the vanity life imbued with its myriad temptations ‘ the gay and material world’. In some senses, flowers not only are a pronoun of life and hope, but also are a symbol of love and lust. The botanical notion about flowers is clear all the more—they are botanic genitalia. From the images of the thousands upon thousands flowers in the nature, Luo Fahui chose roses. In the literatures and popular cultures the implication that rose flowers refer to is basically changeless; but he foreordains to let the mutative meaning of them appear in his works, and throw off a peculiar sense.

In 1999, the first group of roses began to be expressed on the surfaces of his paintings. There was no any scape, no any leaf, all the petals of them sharp-pointedly opened up like some acuminous feelers, and all the flowers were peacefully flying on the empty space like with zero gravity. The color of the petals seemed to be murky gray and wan, and only the part of the pistils and stamens were saturated with a light pink. The metaphors on the surfaces of his works might partly continue the meaning included in the young girls’ figures in his past works. But the images of these flowers were personated fully: the pink pistils and stamens signify the maturity in the body, and indicate an unchaste and injured fate. In the beginning, the rose flowers in his works were extremely sensitive and disquieting.


Gray, green, red, black and white colors, during the years from 2000 to 2002, Luo Fahui has experienced the feelings come from the varied hues in the picture planes and sizes that he kept on amplifying. He is searching after the infinite possibilities of the expressive forces of art in the creative choices that seem to be very finite. Compared with his earlier Roses, his brushwork, use of colors and the textures on the picture planes in these years also began to look like appropriate tension and relaxation, and like doing a familiar work with ease. Until the year of 2001, in the series of Roses he attained mature state day by day. With whether the tension of his artistic language or his control over techniques of paintings, Luo Fahui phased to reach to an unprecedented one. Among them, almost every flower was expressed through a single not a bunch of it. At the very start what he chose was to draw the isolated and whole flowers. Then his visual field in the structures of the works gradually goes into their more and more microcosmic areas; the margins of the rose petals slowly are overflowing out of the picture planes; the black holes like circles packed by the roses petals mark the opened pistils and stamens of roses. Some protuberant red points are coming forth on the plump and soft petals with twisted and spiral shapes like some hypersensitive nervous twigs in the body. They clue to the real experiences from the sense organs of human beings and their transience. The images on the works’ planes obviously refer to the metaphor for eroticism. The black and white keynote in his works, however, demonstrably denies the ambiguous and frivolous attitude shown by the works that often are characterized by the theme of roses. It is very remarkable that the colors of some pistils and stamens of roses in them have already been changed from red to black compared with his earlier works, and the flowers seem to be from blooming to withering. They look like to be on the verge of the wizened. What kind of metaphors are also they?

A flower is a critical point that is most transient and splendid in the life cycle of any plant. It connects its growth with downfall, even its rebirth with death. The symbol for woman through flower is a most common way seen in the history of art. On the surface, there evidently is an expression of sex and lust in Luo Fahui’s Roses, but it is difficult for us to find an easy and joyous hedonistic emotion in them. On the contrary, sometimes, the information revealed through these gray flowers is anxious, sentimental and pitying. Life cannot help itself but the irreversible growth and inescapable caducity. The rose may be stood for a symbol for loving for youth and worshipping affection. Luo Fahui transcended the limitedness of gender role by his uncommon sensitivity, and thoroughly presented the pride and bewilderment in women.

Those huge flowers in the series of Roses usually give an irresistible visual surprise to people. When lookers-on stand before the works of Luo Fahui, you will have a feel to be licked up strongly by them. You could take the impetuous enthusiasm in his heart from the vivid shapes to the internal brushworks in his works. The bright and exaggerated images are contradictorily combined with the false and gloomy colors, sensibility is dissevered by intellect, and the latter is puzzled at the former. Therefore, the series of Roses convincingly show themselves the empty state beyond consciousness -- riotously floating within lustful space, abandoning judgment within aphasic illusion.

There is nothing happy but daily large charge in life. The series of Roses express my own life that is based on something. I taste the unearthliness of existence and the co-being pleasure with others. I hope to visualize these moods, create my own ideal images, and make people rationally understand the vitality and vigor in human nature.’ When Luo Fahui who is not good at speeches talks about his own works, he carefully gives expression to such viewpoints above. We may think that the series of Roses are introspective, ardent and ritualized. Every spectator will unscramble its individualized significance according to his own point of view. In another viewpoint, Chinese in the ancient times said that ‘any flower is not flower itself’. This is concerned with pondering on something from its appearance to its essence. On the work that paints a tobacco pipe, Rene Magritte wrote one famous sentence: ‘this is not a tobacco pipe’. Such words express a paradoxical idea. Just like them, Luo Fahui’s roses are beyond the form of flowers itself, draw the landscape of emotion, and are searching for the depth of desire. They move our internal heart through the nearly illusionary visual angle. (Written in Shanghai, August 1,2002.)

[Editor] Mark Lee