Philosophy behind Illusion

Wu Meng

Born and bred in Japan, artist Aki Lumi studied graphic design and photography under Bauhaus’ influence and now lives in Europe. He holds solo exhibitions worldwide, from Japan, Korea to France and New York. Rarely has China had the chance to see his pieces until recently. Last year, Aki participated in a charity auction for Sichuan earthquake. This year, he’s joining Shanghai’s Vanguard Gallery to organize his solo exhibition “Aki Lumi-Polyfocal.” His photography and drawing pieces are described by French critic Evence Verdier as “a showcase of existing chaos in regular and irregular worlds.” In the three series on display, each echoes the on-spot description. “Garden” is inspired by entangled tree trunks, vines and leaves; “Mechanics” visualize cables and hoses; “Trace” is the gathering of straight lines, curves and corners.

Framed the organic glasses, Aki Lumi’s fluorescent illustrations can weaken you, just like Teresa Teng’s love songs. On the other hand, those glasses reflect calm and sharp sheen when you look at them under the sun. It’s an absolute different feeling for sensitive viewers.

Express the Extreme

Modern technology is more than sufficient for providing life necessities. Globalization also serves as a new platform and regulation for worldwide traffics. However, what we see everyday among headlines are fights for materials, energy and benefits including trade monopoly disputes, Iraq War, Korean farmer demonstration and alike. Human beings have used tools for generations to measure earth, cosmos and time in order to explore new resources. It looks like an inevitable way to sustain our life. Therefore, rocket engines play a key role in technology to explore the unknown. Picking rocket engines as the pattern, Aki Lumi attempts to make an extreme expression to the core technology in the world.

Machines, war and politics pose an inner attraction to men, an attraction that sometimes confuses the other half. As we can see from Aki’s collection “Mechanics”, the pictures are overflown with rocket engines linked with each other like a maze. The artist doesn’t attach much importance to photos. Photos display the truth as well as showcase illusions. To Aki, it’s only a vehicle to collect people’s creations. What he’s interested in or, in the other words, obsessed with is the complicated mechanical system. Although there is artificial elements, we tend to consider all of them are necessary to the rocket engines. Through the heavy mechanical patterns, Aki appears to interpret the original looks of the cosmos.

In Aki’s 2009 latest collection “Garden”, he uses virtual natural sceneries to replace rocket engines. Hundreds of pictures showing details of tropical rain forest and ordinary forest are transferred to an Indian temples or baroque churches. Thus, a man-made holy palace is constructed. Since the natural and artificial elements are hidden, Aki Lumi is still extending the extreme expression and implying truth through illusion. Religion is the channel to connect human and mysterious worlds. After Aki covered religious venues with plants, everything becomes complicated and illegible.

The Artificial World

We realize Aki Lumi’s fond of surveying artificial world in the latest two collections. He uses everything possible to cover, add and differentiate natural and unnatural pictures and portrays the environment around us. Starting from a series pictures of aero-engines, Aki uses illustration softwares to add rainbow-like colors, highlight the contrast and gloss on them. He smooths its outlines with a foggy retouch and prints out the final artworks with special papers. At last, he reminds us of this artificial world with industrial materials. More artificial touches the work has, the more vividly it presents the core message. In “Garden” collection, plants are used as a metaphor for our spiritual world. The constant overlapping of plants and architectures imply to us: What’s the artificial marks we’ve brought forward?

In Aki’s only drawing series “Trace”, he uses a more direct and brave way to portray instead of employing artificial images. He leaves all the representational images behind and enters an abstract world. Aki picks up everything he finds, from brush and camera to compass and pen. This is his indefinite and dialectical experiment between voluntary and involuntary, regular and irregular.

What kind of landscape on earth does Aki Lumi want to guide us to? On the other hand, when we’re facing the existing world bearing this question in mind, we suddenly realize this is exactly what we want. According to Aki, he not only focuses on the artificial orientation, but also values how we sense the world. What’s more important, he is aware that tool is our standard of comprehending the universe.

Exquisite Details

Being a Japanese, Aki Lumi has never included Japanese elements in his works deliberately. He reckons artists to have a multi-cultural and multi-lingual capability. That may be the reason why he leaves his country and migrates to Europe. The cross-cultural landscape facilitates him to create with multiple angles.

Visitors to Japan must have an impressive memory to this country with its meticulous utilize of their land. They have extra neat streets. Old buildings are washed bright and clean. Many families own a one-to-two sq. meter delicate and lush gardens by the corridor. Japanese ladies are well-known for their make-up skills. All of these reflect their focus on details-Japanese are subtle and detail-oriented with a unique and miraculous talent in dealing with materials. Even Aki Lumi is deliberately searching regulations in a world out of order, he’s also creating exquisite colors, layout, forms, skills and materials. He doesn’t give any details a miss.

For his debut exhibition in China, Aki Lumi adopts a Chinese name given by a Chinese photography senior. “Lumi” means getting lost in Chinese. However, Aki’s enlightening works lead us to recognize a certain world. Let’s follow Mr. “Getting Lost” and have an exceptional art journey for the factual landscape.

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