Interview by Marika Azzopardi

ìMost people think art is a God-giving talent. I donít agree. I think a good artist is formed by 90% hard work + 10% talent.î With these words, artist Jason Lu explains away a skill which he has been slowly and steadily mastering since adolescence.

Today Jason Lu is rapidly establishing himself on the local scene not merely as a highly appreciated artist, and an extremely versatile one at that, but also as a much sought-after art teacher.

Visiting his art studio in MíScala for the first time, I am greeted by a medley of artefacts, teaching props and library of art books, and by the artist himself, eager to impart his opinion on the matter of art.

ëI donít call myself a painter, because I use so many different mediums. As you can see I do sculpture, drawing and painting and use anything from clay to stone, wood or metal, oils, pencilÖ whatever.î

Although not yet 30, this young artist has quite a colourful background. Born in Taiwan, to a family which originated from Shanghai, Jason emigrated to America with his family at the age of 15. ìWe had to move away because of the war (should be political problem, not war) which raged through my country at that time. Re-locating to the States was an opportunity but I found myself disabled by the language barrier as I didnít speak English.î Finding himself lost, he decided to make the most of the freedom with which he could choose his own classes and the opted for the one course that didnít really require language skills but through which he could utilize other more creative communication channels ñ art. Between 1992 and 1996, his skills improved steadily, and he moved on to 3-D design training in bronze, clay and silver. Then it was time to go to the San Francisco Academy of Art to study web design and 3-D animation. A stint at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy followed, with a three-year program in 19th Century French figurative art including drawing, painting and sculpture.
ìSome people question why I tried my hand at so many different kind of art. The basic reason is that I wanted to discover the extensive dimensions of artistic expression. I initially went through with the experience of studying the classical way so I could teach myself brain-hand-eye co-ordination which is so utterly important for many professional in this field. The course taught me how to see things differently. Eventually the varied exposure tangibly helped me to diversify my approach.î Moving on to the topic of teaching, Jason Lu admits how even when still a student in San Francisco he already had student of his own. ì I believe people can share their knowledge at any level of the scale. Presently I teach with the pleasure of knowing I can show my pupils certain foundations, but that is where I stop. I provide them with the basics ñ above that it is up to them. They have to create their own of art.î

Having purposely chosen to train under varied important art masters, he hesitates to single out one person whom to portray as mentor, but he does indicate two artists whose work he lauds. ìThereís Van Gogh. Funny thing is that initially, before I was involved in technique myself, I didnít really like his work. I still wasnít capable of understanding it. Then, when I went deeper, I realized that each and every stroke on his canvases touched me. His energy comes through the paintings. Then there is Michelangelo. He has so many unfinished worksÖ it indicates his constant search for perfection. His works made me want to tackle sculpture and aim for fine art as opposed to the commercial genre.î

The beauty of art according to Jason Lu is the fact that good artists are capable of capturing the multiple side of the human being. Talk transfers on to discuss local art and art appreciation and he comments thus, ì A lot of times people in Malta generally like strong contrast work. Of course it is all boils down to personal taste but many times they purchase a work of art simply because the artist is famous. People buy art for all the wrong reason. Some believe that classical is old so it must be good. This is all wrong. You should choose the art which touches you, whatever the style, whoever the artist.î

We talk about diversity. ìSome famous artists keep re-working the same style, cling to old ideas and donít seem to grow through the years. I think a real artist can tackle challenge and if one becomes stuck in the same style of work, it might mean he or she is losing out on the chance to try new things.î

He interprets artistic dynamism as the ability to accept the fact that we live in this particular period of time and it is pointless trying to ignore reality. ìI like to tell artist who come here to look at the reality surrounding them, with all its confusion, diversity, modernity and illusion ñ to take what they want and leave what they donít want.î

Jason, who has now been in Malta for three years, says he is constantly seeking novelty, simply because he himself is evolving constantly as a personality and so this is reflected in his art. ìArt is one of the strongest tools to communicate with because it goes beyond culture, country, and language. It directly connects the feelings between the creator and the viewer. By setting up my studio I want to pass on my knowledge, experience and artistic beliefs to people who are open to receive them. I want to share and discuss the philosophies & techniques used by Great Artists with my students. Previously, I used my artistic abilities solely to generate a source of income. My point of view started to change after studying the life of Michelangelo. It inspired me and developed a real passion within me. I started to realize that my art, if expressed with passion, made a difference and contributed to my surroundings. Now I only do the art I personally feel like doing and hope it is appreciated for what it transmits.î

Jason Lu art is exhibited at: Artitude Gallery, Sliema; Muska Gallery, Balzan; Doneo, Hamrum; Studio Moda, San Gwann.