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August 27, 2011

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Painter creates an identity distinct from his father

SOME people in this world are born lucky.

Artist Luo Dan's father is Luo Zhongli, an accomplished artist in his own right and the president of the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts. Luo Dan's name in Chinese is also the exact translation for Rodin, a French sculptor famous for his works The Age of Bronze and The Thinker.

Thus when Luo Dan hosts an exhibition, a fair number of celebrities usually turn up. This was the case with his solo-exhibition "As Free as the Wind" at Longmen Art Projects at Sinan Mansions in Shanghai featuring 30 oil paintings he created in the past five years.

Luo Dan knows he has been fortunate in life and doesn't try to hide it, but he says that hasn't made his artistic life any easier.

"Frankly speaking, my life has been quite smooth," says the 30 year old clad in casual wear. "But that doesn't mean my path in art has been smooth."

With his father also a famous artist, comparisons are inevitable, but, he says, ultimately unfair.

"I always face the same question, whether or not I feel the shadow of my father," he says. "No, I don't. We have different backgrounds. It would be meaningless to put us together."

Luo Dan also plays the piano, violin and likes to sing. Music is a regular theme in his paintings, especially the rebelliousness of rock 'n roll. Through his art, he expresses the feeling that we want to express something, but hold back. His subjects indulge in singing songs and reveling in music. Their facial expressions are extreme exaggerations of excitement that make it seem as though the viewer can hear the music.

Luo Dan is also quick to say his paintings are not intended to provide insight into society.

"I am not reflecting any responsibilities of history and society," he says. "I only care about the existing world, the lifestyles of my peers."

Using contrasting palettes and expressing the outbreak of passion, Luo's paintings have gradually evolved toward themes of tradition colliding with modernity, or wildness clashing with stillness.

Born in Chongqing, Luo graduated from the middle school attached to the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2000. He then studied at Kunsthochschule Kassel in Germany.

In 2004, he graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, and studied at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, UK. He earned a post-graduate degree from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2007.

But as always, the conversation returns to his father.

Asked whether his father has given him artistic advice over the years, Luo Dan responds with a shy smile.

"I try to hide my paintings from him as I feel a bit awkward," he says. "I want to retain the purity in my art."

Date: through October 30, 10am-6:30pm

Address: 2/F, 23 Sinan Mansions, 515 Fuxing Rd M.


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