Li Jin (b. 1958)
Human Beings Live on Food
ink and colour on paper
190 x 53 cm. (74 3/4 x 20 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2007

Lot Essay

Objects in traditional ink paintings emanated a strong, ancient Chinese literati (scholar-gentry) character that was puristic and metaphysical. Li Jin's work, though steeped in the same vein of vicarious expressions and prosaical idealism, is the antithesis of such. Li enjoys depicting culinary indulgences and Epicurean abandon, and finding pleasures in the vicissitudes and mundanity of life.

This piece, done in leisure brushwork, teems with impishness. It spotlights two roundheaded urchins enjoying a fish dish. The child facing the viewer tilts his head to the side, his eyes wide, angling his chopsticks for the steamed fish. The blank spaces in the composition are awash with inscriptions about butterflies in endearingly juvenile lexicon and penmanship, acknowledging Li's utter ease with his artistic joviality.

Li says in his own words that his collections are all about domestic affairs and daily comings-and-goings. His down-to-earth yet cheerful approach to art and life comes full-circule in this piece. So unrefined to an extreme that it becomes a classic in its own right'. It is in such homeliness that Li alchemises the simple joys of living. Grouding his work in the strength of ink, a traditional medium, Li speaks a modern artistic language to voice the human character of modern times.

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