“The ‘right path’ is sincerity and one’s own truthful method.”

Born Huangshi, Hubei, 1967

Lu Yifan is as much a monk as he is an artist. His wife and daughter live 250 km away, an arrangement that leaves him free to devote up to twelve hours a day to painting. “Perhaps the desire is too intense,” he concedes, but he has no intention of easing up. He is an abstractionist not from allegiance to any school or theory but because he follows “the callings of the heart”. The paints he applies in meticulous layers are a deliberate mix of water-based acrylics and oils: their intermingling “embodies the beauty of harmonising the two cultures” of China and the West. Often adding wax for texture, Lu Yifan produces canvas-shrouding mazes of streaks, flecks, clots and bumps whose patterns seem so inevitable as to be almost organic. In Shape, No Shape (2005) and Transcending Phenomenon (2002-2004), indeterminate shapes loom beneath veils of woven threads; the patterns of black and brown splotches in Phenomenon (2006) track each other, often coalescing but never quite uniting. In his painstaking labours of love, Lu Yifan’s guide is not so much an idea as an attitude, a reverence for inner truth: “Enlightenment,” he says, “is the state of mind I aim for.”

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