Drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese landscape paintings, Lalan created “inner landscapes” during the 1970’s. In these pictures, the sun and the moon, mountains and rivers, and other topographical elements can vaguely be seen, but they do not coalesce into specific identifiable scenes. These inner landscapes are rather transcendental paradises. Lalan was vocal in her admiration of the landscape paintings of the southern Song dynasty, especially those by Xia Gui and Ma Yuan. The latter distilled the monumentality of Northern Song landscapes into tranquil and minimalist vignettes, implying and evoking vast spaces through partial or obscured mountains and waters. This sophisticated visual aesthetics informs La lune est voilée, in which a textured cliffside is seen on the left edge . This lopsided and diagonal composition pointedly recalls the works of Ma and Xia.
Lalan’s painting is dominated by abstract atmosphere, at the center of which a round moon-like body can barely be seen. Lalan captures the beauty of mist and clouds through the bold use of negative space. She renders the spatial transitions between foreground and background by applying delicate and subtle shades of blue. In Lalan’s interpretation of traditional Chinese landscapes in the oil medium, we feel a distinctly Asian aesthetic that recalls Zhuangzi’s notion of “losing one’s connection to language once the meaning is grasped.” As the artist herself hoped, her work allows the viewer to linger in an ideal realm, free from everyday worries and transported into the sublime.
La lune est voilée dates from a critical moment in Lalan’s career, when she began to present her L’art synthèse to the international art world. In 1971, she mounted several solo exhibitions at Galerie Jacques Desbrières, Galerie Iris Clert, and other venues, where she played her electronic music compositions and danced in front of her abstract landscapes. Lalan’s paintings were often guided by her inner music and dancer’s sense of rhythm. La lune est voilée is the perfect illustration of her synthesis of the three arts. The outlines of the cliff vibrate like musical notes, giving rise to an absorbing melody that reverberates and dissolves through the amorphous blue tones. Though profoundly informed by classical Chinese culture, Lalan consistently challenged pre-existing conceptual boundaries. Her understated pictorialism constitutes a unique chapter in the history of modern art.
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