D Shinya Luo is a wonderful artist I stumbled upon who likes to work on figurative paintings, incorporating florals and fauna as symbols. As a male, looking at her work envoked reactions of eroticism, but after a closer look I was able to peel back the layers to explore the carious facets of femininity. Her inspirations including music, psychology, high-fashion, and human relations. Read below as we discuss a variety of topics…
You currently live in the states on the West Coast. How does living in the particular area serve you as an artist?
DSL: Living in Los Angeles is actually the ideal location for me, not only is it the center of contemporary/Pop-Surrealism Art, it’s also got the best weather!
Hailing from Shanghai, and dipping your toe in creating contemporary symbolic art, what do you think accounts for the rapid emergence of a new generation of artists, living and working in a country that, for all intents and purposes, has a reputation for not supporting or even welcoming creative or independent expression?
DSL: It is definitely a huge contrast for me, which I didn’t appreciate until recent years. It’s amazing how far we can push boundaries in this country with art. We can express our point of views about everything including political, sexual, religious…etc. To do that in China would be impossible, and there will severe consequences. Also there are not much opportunities for young artists in China, there is a lot more in the U.S.
What have you learned about femininity, or being a female in general, since you undertook your quest as an artist?
DSL: I’ve learned that feminity is not just about the outward appearance of something or somebody. It’s an attitude, an concept. Every year that I grow older I discover new elements that defines femininity. That list includes confidence, kindness, subtlety, tolerance, and love. I will continue to make these discoveries as I go through life.
Is this personal objective the reason why the majority of your subjects are female? Is it not possible to examine feminism through the roles and scenario’s of male subjects?
DSL: Yes it is. In the beginning it just made sense to use female figures to convey femininity. But in the last few years people’s outlook on sexuality and gender has been making changes. We are much more familiar nowadays with homosexuality, asexuality, gender-neutrality…etc. So I am actually starting to re-examine the possibilities of expressing femininity with other subjects.
You use watercolors, acrylics, graphite, working on tarot cards, Graphic Novel covers, and more…how does a multi disciplinary artist such as yourself decide which projects you want to persue?
DSL: It’s a very straight forward decision. I know where my strength lies so I wouldn’t accept a job doing cityscape paintings. Other than that I would have to have a strong interest in the project itself, because I believe if the artist is not excited about the work then he/she wouldn’t be able to make great art for it.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
DSL: My two most favorite directors are Wong Kar Wai and Zhang YiMou. I have every single films they’ve made. I also find films from Feng XiaoGang to be entertaining.
What kind of work do you want to explore now that you are in your 30s?
DSL: Right now I’m putting all my focus into re-interpreting Vanitas Paintings. That is the theme of my solo show this October. After that I have a few other ideas I want to explore, like different types of relationships… I can’t give away too much right now, the ideas still need time to mature.
The model for sale of art in China, itself, relies little on standard outlets such as galleries and dealers, which seems to be the opposite of how an artist lives within the United States. How do you view the overall system of gallery participation as an artist?
DSL: I like the idea of having a gallery represent the artist. It makes it easier for the collectors and for us artists. The gallery helps us to find collectors who like our type of art, which saves us a lot of hassle and time wasted just researching the market. It is also a more professional approach.
You also accept open commissions. What challenges does this envoke and does taking on random subject matter help you as an artist to stay sharp?
DSL: Most of my commission patron come to me for specific subjects, and they all give me a lot of creative freedom so personally I don’t see doing open commissions as a challenging thing. I do enjoy working on random ideas that are very different from my own as well.
Lastly, any advice for any creative out there?
DSL: Always keep an open mind. No matter how good you think you are, there are always new things, better suggestions, unique ideas out there in the world. If you shut your mind to them, you will never improve.
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