href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_oYKgjvfM250/StNbSCUT4wI/AAAAAAAAAWQ/zV2zksMkNpI/s1600-h/13929.jpg"> Dancing in the Light Metrosource (Los Angeles: October 2006)
Jia Lu's life story sounds like the sort of sweeping modern epic Hollywood goes gaga over. Beijing, China: 1954: In the wake of the communist revolution, Jia Lu, a young girl from a creative family, dreams of becoming an artist. She comes of age during the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Around her, artists and intellectuals - her heroes and mentors - are vilified, murdered and driven out. Her artistic ambitions stymied, Lu joins the Navy when she finishes school, working as an O.R. nurse. Then, unexpectedly, inspired by the sketches of one of her patients, she begins to draw again. At the same time, for political reasons, her Navy career stalls. Lu accepts a job for a state oceanography journal. This reignites her artistic ambitions and opens the way for her to join the Central Academy of Art and Craft. Several serendipitous plot twists later and we find Lu in Canada studying painting. A stranger in a strange land, she struggles to reconcile East and West in her art. Lu's great artistic step forward comes after her first visit to Europe in 1996. She embraces the Western tradition of light and shadow, mass and texture. "I was blown away by the incredibly sexy, monumental paintings of saints and goddesses," Lu recalls, "I didn't understand the Bible stories and the classical myths, but I completely understood the power of the nude figure." Lu soon moves to California and begins to paint male and female nudes and semi-nudes, accompanied by Asian motifs. These early oil paintings juxtapose Eastern and Western figures and cultural objects, but soon Lu becomes more interested in fusing the carnal and the spiritual. The resulting paintings are hauntingly beautiful but never outwardly sexual or base. "Sex is human nature, but the sexual power that flows through every animal or blade of grass is divine," Lu says. "It is the engine that drives life. The men and women in my paintings are aware of that power. Designers talk about good design, thrilling design, as 'sexy'. It describes a perfection that seems not to belong to this world." For years Lu painted the female figure exclusively, but many of her most recent works are intimate, tightly cropped depictions of the male form. Lu's models are professional dancers, caught in motion. "I try to capture movement, light and shadow. Physical beauty is transient. It perishes in an instant. I think the job of an artist is to capture that movement." Jia Lu exhibits her work throughout North America. Lately she has been turning heads in Provincetown, where she exhibits her work every summer. Lu is also designing a Las Vegas show entitled "Transcendance," a 100-minute live musical performance that combines Asian theater, dance, martial arts and acrobatics with state-of-the-art lighting and special effects. Learn more about Jia Lu at www.jialu.com.