Exhibition from July 4 to August 6, 2022
and then by appointment until September 26th
Diana Lui - Śākti - sky, earth, spirit, body - early works from the 1990’s
In the 1990’s when I was in my twenties I returned home to Malaysia after a five-year absence for
my studies. I very quickly realised that I had somehow forgotten where I “came from”. This loss of
identity was due to the fact that I had completely adopted another way of life during my studies in
the US. In order to overcome this cultural and identity shock, I intuitively began to photograph my
first passion, dance. Through dance, the body becomes the primary instrument of self-expression,
and with postures, gestures, twists, stretches, stamps, kicks, leaps, arches, flicks, exaggerated
expressions of the face, etc, our body and soul vibrate and come into existence. When I dance, I
exist. Thanks to my parents who loved the performance arts, I began to dance since the tender
age of 5. Dance, the physical and energetic rhythm of the universe and life, has been in my blood
In Malaysia, I had the opportunity to work with exceptional dancers from companies such as the
Sutra Dance Company and the Five Arts Center. The particularity of the performance arts scene in
Malaysia is its cross-cultural and experimental nature; most choreographers, dancers and actors
had Chinese, Indian, Malay, Arab and European ancestry in their veins. This multifaceted approach
to the arts fitted my self-search perfectly as I had difficulty fusing both my American and Malaysian
identities. Malaysia in her multi-cultural complexity gave me the possibility to accept my own
unique identity as well as develop my photographic writing, something which I only realised much
Thanks to precious moments spent with these fabulous eclectic dancers, I was able to incorporate
body movements and dance gestures into my portraits. The gesture of the body, highly symbolic
emotionally and artistically, has been the foundation of my work until today.
The small series of vintage silver bromide prints presented here are a selection of a larger body of
work made in the 1990’s. I developed and printed them inside a darkroom during my university
days in Los Angeles after having made several “homecoming” trips to Malaysia.
From the Sky
Aummmmmm... trembles throughout the Earth
awakening our Spirit
to the ancient language of our Body
© Diana Lui, Śākti
About the Artist
Diana Lui is an artist, photographer and filmmaker of Chinese and Punjabi 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. Based
both in Kuala Lumpur and Paris, she has been working between Asia and Europe for the last 30
years. Her 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 3 decades questions the changing definition of cross-cultural
identities, past, present, future identities, hybrid identities as well as non-identities.
Lui’s fine arts education in UCLA (University California Los Angeles) and the Art Center College
of Design in Pasadena, California were influenced by teachers Robert Heinecken and Jan Stüssy,
prominent artists of the 1960’s Post-Modernist period. Lui specialised in photogravure and
platinum/palladium printing under the guidance of Los Angeles master printmaker Anthony Zepeda,
Rauschenberg’s former printer. A master with the 8x10 inch view camera, Diana Lui develops
projects over several years. Lui is invited regularly to lecture and teach in masterclasses around the
world with international festivals such as the Rencontres d’Arles in France and Venezia Photo in
Lui has exhibited in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world - Guangdong Museum of
Art, Shanghai Art Museum, Fototeca de Monterrey in Mexico, Museo de Bellas Artes Caracas in
Venezuela, Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi in Belgium, Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris,
Musée Les Abattoirs and Musée Paul Dupuy in Toulouse, Southern France. Public collections
include the Guangdong Museum of Art, Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi, Museo de Bellas
Artes Caracas, University of California Los Angeles, etc. Recent private collectors include King
Mohammed VI from Morocco and the new Mandarin Oriental in Marrakech.
Lui was the first photographer chosen for the prestigious new art & science residence in Toulouse,
Résidence 1+2 in 2016. She was also a finalist for the Fondation HSBC pour la Photographie in
2008. She received a grant in 2015 from the George Town Festival in Penang for her project on
Malaysian women which travelled from the festival to the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur
for the first KL Biennale in 2018.
She is represented by galleries around the world: Galerie 127 in Marrakech & Paris, Galerie Carole
Decombe in Paris and Los Angeles, Galerija Fotografija in Ljubljana, Galerie Huit in Arles and
SOLÈNE in London.