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Luo Fahui is part of the generation of artists who studied fine arts shortly after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). His oil paintings, which are characterized by surreal, pearly gray compositions, punctuated by bright splashes of crimson and turquoise, address themes of desire, isolation and violence.

The title of this work refers to ancient poems of mystical excursion, in which a Daoist master is carried off to the realm of the Immortals. These stories were sometimes fantasies of poets who dreamt of escaping conventional society. In Chinese mythology, the Immortals’ preferred mode of transportation was a fantastical red-crowned crane; mortals who achieved immortality were similarly carried off by one of these creatures. The Immortals prized rare magical peaches, which conferred 1000 years of life on those who consumed them.

In Mystical Journey, the artist has added a slew of roses, which in Luo’s work are frequently associated with desire and lust. The Daoist master has been replaced with a large fleshy boy, possibly the artist’s alter-ego. The crane hovers indecisively between an inviting bed of lush blossoms below and the glowing heavens above. The child bears a peach of immortality in one arm and more roses in the other. It appears that some difficult choices will have to be made if the journey to transcendence is to be completed.

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  • Mystical Journey
  • Luo Fahui (b. 1961) was born in Chongqing, Sichuan province, and was one of the very first classes to enroll in the recently re-opened Sichuan Fine Art Institute following the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. He graduated from the oil painting department of the Sichuan Fine Art Institute in 1985, and unlike his avant-garde peers, managed to avoid participating in many of the artistic movements that took the careers of his peers in art centers like Beijing and Shanghai abroad. He predominately works in oil, painting images of pearly, fleshy bodies amidst amorphous grey backgrounds with hints of color and bloodshed on their forms. The bodies are full of lust, loneliness, and violence, while still lives often feature flowers whose vibrant red petals look like stains, and the artist has also begun fabricating fiberglass sculptures with similar themes. Luo Fahui has shown extensively within China, receiving his first solo show at the National Art Museum of China in 1993. Since the early nineties, he has also shown modestly abroad.

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    LUO Fahui 罗发辉