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David Lu Spring Melody

David Lu, Spring Melody

The Artist

What is known about David Lu is a bit sketchy. Yet from what we do know is that David was born in Shanghai in 1913. He moved to Hong Kong in 1961 and then onto Australia and Canberra, in 1964. David served as an art teacher and lawyer as well as practicing art and calligraphy.

David Lu was proficient in painting Chinese watercolours and in Chinese caligraphy. Traditional Chinese watercolours use mineral and vegetable pigments premixed with glues. The main feature of Chinese watercolours is their luminosity and transparency. According Lian Quan Zhen, although there are similarities between western and eastern art traditions, there are a number of key differences. Firstly, Chiniese artists use their imagination to paint expressive interpretations of nature whereas the Western tradition has sought to faithfully depict the scenery. For Chinese artists, they are staying true to Taoist philosophy of achieving harmony with nature. A second difference is a matter of perspective. Chinese artists imagine themselves flying over maintains like birds to observe landscapes, creating a moving perspective. The goal is to invite the viewer to wander over and through the landscape.  Chinese water-colourists  use simplified minimal brushstrokes to delineate subjects as they see and feel them. Western artists tend to render objects according to light source to depict an object's surface.

There is also a significant cultural difference between western and Chinese water-colours in history. Chinese watercolours have a tradition going back beyond the Song Dynasty of the 1200s. Water-colours only become prominent in western traditions in the 18th Century with artists such as Cotton and Gilpin. This, perhaps, reflects different viewpoints to nature since from the 1750s the age of enlightenment and of reason in the Western World set to observe and view nature in a critical manner.

Spring Melody by David Lu

The Works of art

The University of Canberra holds four works of art by David Lu in its Art Collection. Three are watercolours depicting landscapes very much in the Chinese tradition- partly observation and embellished with imagination. The perspective and onlooker's view is much one of a bird looking down and across. Some of these landscapes were donated to the University to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the founding of the original College of Advanced Education. The fourth work by David is a traditional work of caligraphy titled 'Self Reliance' . Although the works of art are displayed in frames, these works are traditional Chinese scrolls and were meant to be viewed on special occasions only and then scrolled up and stored. How we view artworks differs between cultures and these play a major influence on their meanings too.

Misty morning in the Valley  by David Lu Self Reliance by David Lu A Delicately Beautiful Landscape by David Lu


David Lu, Centre for Australian Art,

Chinese Watercolors, A world of Luminosity and Transparency,

It's a small world, EAstern Art Meets Western Art, Artists network,