Diana Lui is an artist and filmmaker of Chinese and Sikh origins from Malaysia. She was sent in the 1980’s at age 14 to further her studies in Los Angeles, California. After 12 years in the United States, Lui moved to Europe, first to Belgium and finally to France in 1998. Lui’s transient life between three different continents has developed in her a heightened sense of “rootlessness”. This “loss of self” became later the center from which her art took shape. Consequently, her work for the last 30 years questions the changing definition of cross-cultural identities, past, present, future identities, hybrid identities as well as non-identities.
Diana Lui’s early art education was influenced by teachers Robert Heinecken and Jan Stüssy, prominent artists of the 1960’s Post-Modernist period. Lui specialized in photogravure and platinum/palladium printing under the guidance of Los Angeles master printmaker Anthony Zepeda, Rauschenberg’s former printer.
Based in Paris now for 18 years, Lui works between Europe, North Africa and Asia. A master with the 8×10 inch view camera, Diana Lui develops projects over several years. Diana Lui’s large format photographic portraits have been compared to August Sander’s portraits of the German people. However, Lui takes off from August Sander’s objectivity with a lyricism and sensitivity of her own interpretation.
Her project since 2009 explores the veil and traditional costume and their universal semantics in Northern Africa, Asia and Europe. Recent exhibitions include a series of striking portraits on women in traditional costume from Tunisia at the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, portraits of Moroccan women in traditional veiled costumes at the Obscura Festival of Photography in Penang, portraits on Malaysian women’s contemporary identity at the George Town Festival in Penang and portraits of women in traditional costume from Toulouse (Occitane region in southwestern France, 150 km from the Mediterranean sea) at the modern and contemporary art museum Les Abattoirs.
Lui’s latest experimental project involves our identification with the universe through astronomy and astrophysics where she collaborated with scientists who are working on planet Mars at the Institut de RechercheenAstrophysique et Planétologie, IRAP (Research Institute for Astrophysics and Planetology) in Toulouse, the center of the European aerospace industry.