Great works of Lu Dan'an and his grandsons

Lu Dan'an was renowned for his calligraphy, poems and seal-carving, and two of his grandsons have become famous in their own right. Their works are now n show at Jing'an Library.

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Master Lu Dan'an and his calligraphy

Calligraphy, ink-wash paintings, letters, seal-carvings and poems by Lu Dan'an (1894-1980) and his grandsons Lu Kang and Lu Datong are on display at Shanghai Jing'an Library until the end of this month.

The senior Lu was renowned for his profound knowledge of calligraphy, poetry and seal-carving.

“Although we lived in different eras under different backgrounds, what my grandfather taught us always show great influence on our life and art,” says 79-year-old Lu Kang, one of China’s most renowned seal-carvers.

In Lu Kang’s eyes, his grandfather led a rich life — running a newspaper and co-founding a film company.

“He was so versatile that he also wrote movie scripts and novels,” says Lu Kang. “However, despite all the glamor, he actually preferred a low-profile life and didn’t care about money or fame.”

Since he returned from Macau to the Chinese mainland in 2000, Lu Kang has engaged in sorting out the family’s private files — collecting and studying the letters, calligraphy works and manuscripts of Lu Dai’an — that contain 5 million Chinese characters.

This exhibition is the first time some of the historic materials are shown to the public.

“When I was still a little boy, I wasn’t able to understand the inner world of my grandfather,” Lu Kang says. “But the more I studied his calligraphy, poems and other works, the more I started to know him as a noble scholar.”

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Lu Kang (right) and his younger brother Lu Datong

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Lu Kang's seal-carving work

The exhibition also showcases the seal-carvings and calligraphy works created by Lu Kang and ink-wash paintings of Lu Datong.

Because of his family background, Lu Kang says he is fortunate to be able to choose his own path as a child. He studied seal-carving under master Chen Julai (1904-84). The charm of his seal-carving lies in his understanding of the tiny space, the relationship between each character and the arrangement.

Lu Kang’s seal is a combination of harmony, rhythm, art and culture. Lu Kang moved to Macau in the 1980s and served as a cultural ambassador for the Macau government for 17 years.

“Never think seal-carving is just simply carving characters on a chop," he says. “The subtlety in balancing each character in harmony with elegance and beauty is a real challenge.”

His younger brother, Lu Datong, was tutored by Liu Haisu (1896-1994), Chen Shifa (1921-2007) and Liu Danzhai (1931-2011), all heavyweight names in modern Chinese art.

Lu Datong not only excels in traditional ink-wash paintings but also in book design, for which he has won several awards.

“It’s true that we were taught about tradition in Chinese culture, but that has not limited us,” Lu Kang says. “We have our own aesthetic taste that reflects our understanding of tradition.

Exhibition details

Date: Through November 30, 9:30am-4pm

Venue: Shanghai Jing’an Library

Address: 1708 Xinzha Rd


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A collection of Lu Dan'an's calligraphy works

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