The Room Upstairs presents Beijing based painter Lu Song with a new suite of works at Massimo De Carlo Gallery, London. Lu Song creates evocative acrylic landscape paintings, inspired by 19th century German Romanticism, which focus on the conception and depiction of an idealised place of safety or comfort and the connections and disconnections between humans and nature.

For The Room Upstairs the artist has come up with a new series of canvases that are inspired by the novel 1984 – the dystopian political masterpiece written in 1949 by George Orwell. The author was deeply disturbed by the widespread cruelties and oppressions he observed in communist countries, and was particularly concerned by the role of technology in enabling oppressive governments to monitor and control their citizens.

As put by the artist himself: “1984 creates a claustrophobic moment in a monitored era. In the beginning of the story, Winston recognises the absurdity of the era and intentionally looking for memories of the past. In an antique shop, he sees the rooms, paintings, wall clocks and the songs of the old days.

He rents the room upstairs and he talks about his views of Inner Party with Julia (the female protagonist), exchanges their views on deceit and shares the imagination of beautiful future. The room symbolizes freedom and excitement; however, everything comes to an end when Winston recognises the truth. He realises the room and everything in the antique shop are traps that the Inner Party set up to rule out dissidents. All surveillance equipment is hidden in the room. The room has turned from an ideal shelter to a terrible trap.”

What attracted the artist to the novel is the tension created by the portrayal of daily lives in the room and it’s hidden implication of danger. The author depicts the room in different paragraphs as the story progresses. The kind of icy warmth, fear of calm, absurdity and mystery, coexistence of intrigue and delusion are brought into some of the works in the exhibition, such as A Pocket of the Past and Beneath the Room further deepens the understanding and experience of the situation. Blurred, incomplete objects on canvas allude to the fragmentation and instability of life.

Eight-Thirty is an imagination of the sentiment and ambience of the critical moment before Winston’s arrest. The expressive brushstrokes portray the psychological struggles of character’s mind. In The Room Upstairs dehumanization and fragmentation, manipulation and control, psychological microcosms and socio-political universes are explored through each canvas. The depth of the colours and the strength of each brushstroke evoke a sense of false serenity and veiled thoughts.