LI DI / Criss-Cross
2016.12.20(tue) - 2017.2.28(tue)
On 20 December, TOKYOGALLERY +BTAP will raise the curtain on the exhibit Li Di / Criss-Cross, curated by renowned independent curator Fang Zhenning.
Li Di graduated in the 80’s from the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). After graduation, he was active in the art world at the time, and was at one point involved in the planning of the avant-garde “Exhibit of Chinese Expressive Arts” held at the National Museum of China. The brushwork in his early paintings is unmistakably his, yet those were expressionist brushstrokes aimed at displaying individuality and personal emotions. His trajectory in painting over the course of his 20 year stay in Germany is strikingly visible, as he’s a fellow traveller on the path of German Neo-Expressionist painting, which bears relation to his early aesthetics. However, what stimulated a real sea change in his painting style is the construction of his studio, which he began upon his return to China in 2010. In the short span of 6 years, by ceaselessly organizing a range of solo-exhibits as well as taking part in joint exhibits, he displayed a frenzied, volatile energy, which garnered him the attention of members from various strata of the art world. His two most noteworthy exhibits to date are CHUNG HWA HB, which traced back his artistic origins, and Criss-Cross, which bears meditative characteristics.
Repetition and reiteration are prominent traits in the recent works of Li Di. Such is the logic underpinning the pictorial expression of meditative painting, not unlike Buddhist monks, whose repeated recitations of sutras turn into rhythmic melodies. Neither desires nor feelings are involved in these works. All contours in the works are fragmented, as reiterated segments of identical length crisscross through the space. The forms and structures are repeated and reiterated, as are the brushstrokes. What has inspired this transition from the sentimental and individualized expressionist language of the artist’s early paintings to a more meditative painting free of desire and restraint? It’s presumably the outcome of the artist’s religious cultivation along his artistic travels. If we regard Li Di’s artistic experiences as a revelatory disentanglement, we discover a new starting point in his painting, which coincides with his return from Germany. We may regard these works as paintings of closure.
One can understand the art of Li Di with the help of an enlightening subdivision, i.e. respectively the eight years spent in China during the artist’s formative period, the twenty years he resided in Germany, followed by another six years after his return to China. It’s worth comparing which transitions the artist underwent along the way in terms of life, painting and style. Via the aforementioned, one may gain some understanding of the vertical/horizontal crossings and meditation aspect [in the artist’s works].
This exhibit consists entirely of new works made by Li Di in 2016. For this occasion, the highly experienced independent curator Fang Zhenning accepted our invitation to customize a unique exhibition space for Li Di. With respect to both the curatorial concept and the atmosphere during the setting up of the exhibit, in order to reflect the quintessence of painting, he was bent on placing contemporary art works in a contemporary space composed of traditional materials, which is an unprecedented experiment.
This exhibit will last from 20 December, 2016 to 28 February, 2017. The opening event will be held on 20 December at 16:00. We wholeheartedly look forward to your presence!