Zheng Lu was born in Chi Feng, Inner Mongolia, China. Influenced by his family tradition, Zheng Lu has been practicing Chinese calligraphy since childhood and composing poems from his teenage years on. These two factors connect his abiding love of Chinese texts and characters that is repeatedly expressed in his creations. Classical culture, along with a profound interest in religions, and the exploration of the self, also inspire his artwork. The artist uses language as a sculptural element.
Zheng Lu’s sculptural work is infused with classical Chinese calligraphy and poetry. Each sculpture derives from or literally cites pieces of literature or counts a story, in a readable or unreadable way depending on the chosen script. The rendering in three dimensions of an art or a philosophy, which is either ephemeral and spoken, or written and two-dimensional, is esthetically and technically astonishing. His works translate to the viewer the balance and contradiction inherent in human nature. The relationship between content and form, and mind and body are eluded to in the intricate sculptures playing with reflection and shadows and encourage the viewer to tactile and sensory exploration as much as thinking.
As the Chinese art critic Xia Yun wrote, Zheng Lu’s sculptures not only display the striking skills of a sculptor, and demonstrate a perfect state of harmony and unity between poetry, calligraphy and graphical depiction, but they also carry messages and symbols that are even more profound: symbols such as reality and falsity, presence and lack, light and darkness, movement and stillness, transience and eternity. Once observed closely, one would find Taoist inspirations and Buddhist wisdoms about the self, nature and spirituality, waiting for viewers to discover and feel.
Taking the underlying creation process from his three-dimensional constructions as inspiration, Zheng has delved into new conceptual ground with his most recent Image Polishing Series. Reacting to our modern-day passive consumption of images, the artist selects a variety of illustrated subjects ranging from current events to historical figures, and recreates them on aluminum panel using industrial lacquer. After an arduous process of rendering six to seven images, layered one on top of the other, the artist “polishes” his work, sanding it down with abrasives in order to expose the layers below. The resulting composition is no longer a representation—it has become a serendipitous interlacing of history, ideas, and voices: an abstraction.