Li Qing (b. 1981) was born in Huzhou, Zhejiang, and now lives in Hangzhou. Li Qing’s art practices embrace various media having began with oil painting, to now including video, photography and installation. The subject his works deal with also developed in depth. Standing in front of his works, audiences are led into a visual game, conversing with and reflecting on the artworks. The imagery created by Li Qing is no more just a means of representing reality. As a pioneer of “Intellectual Painting”, he presents his audience a familiar context, allowing concepts tell the story on their own.
Li Qing’s early series usually take form in diptych, such as his ‘Finding Differences’ series (2005-) and ‘Images of Mutual Undoing and Unity’ set (2007-) He borrows the form of the familiar video game “Find the differences”, adding pop culture motifs, such as politicians, celebrities, daily objects, everyday scenes and news. In his works, one of the two motifs will be altered at several spots to lead audiences into a visual game, starting up a conversation between the two works. His work also sees him pressing two wet paintings together face-to-face before separating them, playing between the truth and nothingness. In fact, the two juxtaposed paintings don’t show differences merely in form; they are a playful statement by the artist to deliver the differing concepts behind them. Every single brushwork or “Undoing” bears a unique gesture of the artist. The line between the absolute identical and the different thus is blurred, and the literal meaning of images is also absorbed into the surface of the canvas. By comparing the two paintings, audience come close to artist’s real intentions—connotations of complex humanity, changing social landscape, and shared experiences or collective emotions of a certain period. The entry point to understanding Li Qing’s paintings therefore switch from the surface of imagery as a representation of reality to the comparison between the two. And the image is merely a path to the more profound level of understanding.
Drifting, nothingness and disillusionment permeate most of Li Qing’s works. In his later photography, video and installation works, artist deals with several eternal themes or philosophical concepts, such as the presenting of things as a subject, humanity in social development and the feeling of anxiety extensively existing in the time the artist lives in. During the 80s, China went through huge social reform and opening-up as well as dramatic economic growth, bringing in an overwhelming expansion of consumerism. Everyday objects became distant to people. They are used and then abandoned very shortly. For the artist, objects are the embodiment of the living experience. They show a state of nothingness and detachment in people’s living conditions. The Fridge as a motif appears in many of artist’s works, including ‘White Group Portrait’ (2010) and ‘Black Group Portrait’ (2010). The Fridge in Li Qing’s works is like Van Gogh’s Shoes, standing solemnly like a group of tall buildings, with a sense of human dignity, not being consumed as daily objects anymore. In the video work ‘Drifting Floss’ (2010), floss covers every corner, becoming the subject matter in this clueless story. Textile workers wander around in trance, delivering to the audience a collective feeling of powerlessness and disillusionment.
For the solo show ‘Li Qing: In the Vicinity’ (2014, Leo Xu Projects), the artist created a group of site-specific works associated with the gallery’s location. An installation series ‘Neighbor’s Window’ (2013) borrows the trompe l’oeil technique, combining old wooden window frames with the paintings of colonial architecture behind glass. The visual illusion connects individual life with today’s modern metropolis of Shanghai, which comes along with the feeling of anxiety in the westernized culture and memory of the past revolutionary time. Other works in this show also show the development of Shanghai at a similar angle: the coexistence and mingling of different notions and ideologies, opening up dialogues between the past and the present.
Li Qing graduated from the Oil Painting Department of China Academy of Art in 2007. He has had solo shows at Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, China; Tomás y Valiente Art Centre, Madrid, Spain; Duolun Museum Of Modern Art, Shanghai, China and Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, among others. A number of prestigious art institutes have also included his works for group shows, such as The 55th Biennale Di Venezia Special Invitation Exhibition, Arsenale di Venezia, Italy; National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia; Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan; ART COLOGNE 2013, Cologne, Germany; São Paulo Museum of Contemporary Art, São Paulo, Brasil, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, USA and Square Gallery of Contemporary Art etc. His works are collected by many art institutes and foundations, such as M+ Art Museum, Hong Kong, China; Deutsche Bank, Germany; Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain; Art & Culture Foundation (IAC) of Spain, Madrid, Spain; Logan Foundation, San Francisco, USA; Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Yuz Foundation; Budi Tek Collection, Shanghai, China; Square Gallery of Contemporary Art, Nanjing, China; and China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China.
For more works and projects by the artist, download the portfolio in pdf.
“Performing Time”, Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai, China, 2016
“The Mud of Compound Experience”, Mother’s Tankstation & Leo Xu Projects, Hong Kong, China, 2016
“A Suite of Eights Room” (solo), Arario Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2015
“Li Qing: Big Cathedral” (solo), Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, 2015
“Painting 20 x 20″, Poly Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2015
“Copyleft: Appropriation Art in China”, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 2015
“Garden”, Splendors, Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, China, 2015
“Breaking the Image”, Sishang Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2015
“The System of Objects”, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015
“Blow Up: Li Qing Independent Projects” (solo), 9 M2 Museum in Goethe Institute, Shanghai, China, 2014
Vanity Fair On Art, “Li Qing”, by Fabien Fryns, November, 2016 [download pdf]
Flash Art, “Li Qing”, by Michele D’Aurizio, March & April, 2016 [download pdf]
Hi Art, “Things are not what they may seem”, by Hu Tingting, June, 2015 [download pdf]
The Art Newspaper, “More Than Brand Names and Biennial Favourites”, by Melanie Gerlis & Gareth Harris, March, 2015 [download pdf]
Iart, “Li Qing: Tranquility After Absurdity”, by Wang Yinbo, May, 2014 [download pdf]
ArtChina, “Li Qing at Leo Xu Projects”, by Wang Jing, January, 2014 [download pdf]
Art Face, “Art is Channel”, by Wen Jia, January, 2014 [download pdf]
Blouin Artinfo, “Slideshow: Li Qing’s “In the Vicinity”", by Sam Gaskin, December, 2013 [download pdf]
Global Times, “In the Vicinity”, by Hu Bei, December, 2013 [download pdf]
Vision, “Falling in LiQing’s Painting”, by Zhou Yi, Issue 131, August, 2013 [download pdf]
Numéro, “Klimt – A Revolutionist”, by Li Qing, December, 2012 [download pdf]
Arts Magazine, “Li Qing: Intellectual Painting (cover story) “, by Chen Mengzhe, Issue 2, June, 2012 [download pdf]