Shu Lu Liu (Aaron) was born in Taichung, Taiwan. She received academic training in art in high school and private education in music from an early age. Suffering from the pressure from the family and the treatment of ADHD, Shu Yu dropped out of college and commenced an untraditional path as an artist and performer.
In 2008, Shu Lu attended the talent show “SuperIdol 2” at the age of 16. Her performance received wide media exposure. Shu Lu has studied a year in New Zealand. Later, she worked as a DJ and later as graphic designer at Western Design from 2016 to 2021, sharpening her sensitivity to color and form. Since the pandemic, Shu Lu has settled down as a full-time artist.
Shu Lu’s Lost Zoo series made in 2015 featured paintings of cartoonish full-length animal portraits in single-colored backgrounds. The series was exhibited at Insider Lounge last year and generated much critical acclaim from the audience. Her abstract series started in 2021 features abstract paintings of overlapping washes of color fields. Shu Lu finds inspiration from nature, seasons, weather and impressionistic moods. In this series, Shu Lu experiments in merging music and visual arts. She composes pieces of light and uplifting music to accompany several paintings. The music and paintings are meant to experience together. The audial sensation constructs a buffer against the worries of daily life and directs one’s attention toward the paintings. Shu Lu aimed to create an immersive and multi-sensory experience for the audience. The series is exhibited in the solo exhibition, “Waltz in Summers Eve” at TAOU Bistro this July.
Currently, Shu Yu is undertaking a new series of work that ponders various social issues. In the first painting, Where Is Home? Shu Lu reflects on her personal experience as a lesbian and the circumstances of LGBT people in society. On a white background with coarse texture, Shu Lu sticks triangular and rectangular shapes cut from fabrics, inspired by the form of the tangram. For the choice of color, she adds the color white, a symbol of purity and naivety for her, in addition to the seven colors of the rainbow. Around the tangram, Shu Lu scribbles various hashtags on LGBT keywords, doodles a face with a heart-shaped mouth and crosses the sentence, “where is home?” over with a red crayon. The playful imagery is elevates the sorrows implied by the scribbled words and empowers those who suffer from prejudices on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Shu Lu believes in the curing power of art and perpetuates the idea of “Romantic Fantasy” in her artistic practice. Shu Lu is currently represented by Song Fong Gallery and is the founder of Aratar Art Partners. In addition to the solo exhibition mentioned above, Shu Lu has had a solo exhibition, “Liu Shu Lu—Hope for” at The Cafe Deco this March and another solo exhibition “Summer Breeze” at Yolo Moment in August. Her works are currently featured in a group show at 107 Gallery.
The concept of “Romantic Fantasy” leads my artistic practice. I feel strong affinities with the ideal of romanticism: the emphasis on individual’s emotion, imagination and the search for sublime experience in nature.
For me, art possesses the curing power for both the artist and the audience. Creative acts inspired by 19th century romantic ideals are the most effective means to liberate and purify the mind and spirit. In my abstract series, I incorporate imageries of nature metaphorically into the painting. The uplifting and soothing pieces of music are meant to slow down the tense thoughts and relax the mind. The audial sensation constructs a buffer against the worries of daily life and directs one's attention toward the paintings. Moreover, the act of listening to music adds a temporal dimension, which assists the audience’s contemplation of art. I aimed to create an immersive and multi-sensory experience.
Imagination helps one to withdraw from daily life and escape from social constraints. As a result, I incorporate my fantasies into the works, especially those that are playful and childish. Scribbles, toys and animals that are reminiscence from the childhood experience appear in my work not only to relax and nourish the mind but also to offer new perspectives on social issues. Inspired by Lin-Manael Miranda’s speech on Orlando Shooting, “We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;/ We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer/ And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside,” I reflect on the difficult circumstances of LGBT people in society in my most recent work, Where is Home?.
The tangram and the smiley face tone down the tragic mood implied by the scribbled words. Although there are seven colors in the rainbow, there are only six colors on the pride flag. I add the color white for the seventh piece of the tangram. White represents love, peace, and my respect for LGBT people. The painting encourages the viewer to reflect on gender identity and sexual orientation. The playful imagery may touch those who are previously nonchalant about the issues. Moreover, the naivety expressed by the toys, scribbles and color white empowers those who suffer from their identities and elicit a cathartic experience. My works are romantic fantasies that refresh and liberate the mind.