From September 27 - December 17, 2017, Li Huayi's solo exhibition Fantasies on Paper and Enchantments in Gold will be shown at the New Suzhou Museum. Organised by Suzhou Museum, the exhibition is co-organized by the Federation of HK Jiangsu Community Organizations with the support of Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, and curated by Wu Hongliang, Associate Director of Beijing Fine Art Academy.
To the artist, this exhibition is not a review, but a statement, a representation of his understanding of art. The exhibition will present 18 paintings from different periods of Li's artistic endeavor, covering the very best works selected from the "Monumental Landscapes series", the "Water Scenes series", the "Multiple Screens Installation series" and the latest “Gilded Screen Series”, which will lead to a deep understanding of Li’s artistic developments during the past 15 years for audiences.
Li Huayi is an artist with thorough knowledge of the past and the present, the East and the West. When he first set foot in the art world, Li was equipped with both Chinese and Western skills and techniques. At an early age he studied Chinese painting under the tutelage of Wang Jimei, son of Wang Yiting, who was one of the most renowned traditional Chinese painters in Shanghai. Later he began his study of Western art with Zhang Chongren, who had studied at the Belgian Royal Academy in Brussels and who was known for his watercolors and sculptures. Having survived the 10-year Cultural Revolution, Li furthered his studies in the United States in the 1980s and experienced the fascinations of Western art. He gradually developed his own artistic language by infusing Chinese contexts with a contemporary awareness. This distinctive style gained him critical acclaim in the 1990s.
The antiquity in Li's paintings echoes the monumentality of Northern Song paintings, giving viewers the impression that they are not the works of a contemporary artist. After studying them meticulously, one will, however, notice that the artist deliberately breaks away from the practice of contemporary art. He remains unchanged, one of the qualities Eastern philosophy teaches when facing the rapidly changing world. His works are majestic and yet delicate. Underneath Li's meticulous depictions, which portray a rigidity inherited from tradition, audacious experiments can be found. The synergy created by his seamless intertwining of tradition and the avant-garde is indeed unique.
After much deliberation, Fantasies on Paper and Enchantments in Gold has been chosen as the theme of the exhibition. The splendor it denotes encompasses the extravagance of the imperial family and conveys the nobility and romance of China's republican era. The rhythmic quality of the words resonates with the artist's underlying statement, which condones magnificence and contemporary awareness. Paper is the body of painting and fantasy is the soul; gold is the beauty of painting and enchantment is the passion. Fantasizing the paper and enchanting the gold is a process of refinement. The elegant gardens in Suzhou are not separate from the mundane world, but are a human refinement of it, constituted by manipulating a tree, a house and water. It is the relationship between detachment and passion in his paintings that allows Li Huayi to be playful.
Two renowned professionals in Asia, Steve Leung Designers Ltd. and Tino Kwan Lighting Consultants Ltd. have been invited to create the space setup and lighting of the exhibition so as to complement the New Suzhou Museum, a combination of Jiangnan garden design and modern architecture by I.M. Pei, and to achieve a unity between the paintings, exhibition, space and viewers.
Fantasies on Paper and Enchantments in Gold - Solo Exhibition of Li Huayi
Organizer: Suzhou Museum
Co-organizer: Federation of HK Jiangsu Community Organisations
Sponsor: The Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank, Ltd. and Shanghai Commercial Bank
Supported by: Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery
Curator: Wu Hongliang
Venue Design: Steve Leung Designers Ltd.
Lighting Design: Tino Kwan Lighting Consultants Ltd.
September 27 - December 17 2017
Contemporary Galleries, New Suzhou Museum, 204 Dong Bei Street, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China