Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall
30 November 2015
LI JIN (B. 1958)
Ink and colour on paper
156 x 52.5 cm. (61 3/8 x 20 5/8 in.)
Acquired by the present owner from Luen Chai, Hong Kong in 2004.
In a genre where elegance and the portrayal of an ideal serene life dictate aesthetic and fashion, Li Jin’s paintings exude a crude sense of reality rarely seen in mainstream Chinese ink paintings. On first impression, it would be all too easy to discount Li Jin as merely another vulgar genre artist, but repeated inspection rewards the viewer with greater depths. Born to a traditional Chinese family in 1958, Li’s background reflects quite a different upbringing. He received formal training in ink painting at the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts; the renowned portrait painter Zhou Sicong, Li’s aunt, influenced his early artistic directions. Li’s journeys to the Dunhuang caves in 1981 and Tibet in 1984 opened his eyes to Tibetan culture. Tibet, its sun, colours and people, has had a lifelong influence on Li’s art, empowering it with optimism and richness.
Li’s typical compositions are packed with semi-naked figures and food, symbolising sex and nourishment, the two primal indulgences of life (Lot 709). The “excess” of things implies a sense of vanity, hedonism and conspicuous consumption commonly displayed in contemporary China. This busy, colourful style relates to Li’s spacious home where he hosts large banquets among friends. A stark contrast can be seen in his works from the 1990s, when Li was living in a small hutong, which often depict a lonesome figure doing household chores (Lot 710) or smaller gatherings in a courtyard (Lot 711).
Amid the laughter and lavishness, Li suggests that physical enjoyment may be transient. His concern for mortality is hinted at in the lack of facial expression in his figures, suggesting a fleeting sense of fear. In portraying this unembellished reality with humour, Li’s paintings infuse a sense of positivity and resonate with the spirit of a daily life that is filled with contrasting emotions.
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LOTS 704 – 711DONGXI STUDIO – CHINESE PAINTINGS FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE BELGIAN COLLECTION
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