Jiang Li’s works are highly varied. He creates art from momentary thoughts, dreams and transient feelings in life. His art is a monologue of here and now, spoken by himself.
In the sculpture Death of the Liar (2012), we are surprised by the murder of a most prominent liar, which stirs up all kinds of feelings. Five Rings (2008) depicts the inside of a woman’s body, also touching us deep down. A scolding shower head stands tall and slender in front of us (Shower Head, 2017). For Gymnastics (2012), the artist made a motorbike, even though he cannot ride it. Ahead of its bony, awkward structure hangs a yellow light. The artist claims that he rode it once but will never again. He has found a family photo. The parents are successfully distracted and look sideways, but the young son, frowning and with a serious face, looks straight into the camera (Family Photo, 1990-2017). He even peed into a metal urinal, melodramatically taking a black picture of it and claiming it wasn’t an easy process (Put It In, 2017).
All of Jiang’s works show humor, simplicity, sarcasm, variety, freedom and disguised observation in a strong and unique way. He detests routine and banality, doing everything he can to avoid them. He aspires to high degrees of purity and inner concision. He wishes to advance like an ant – when an obstacle obstructs its way, it climbs right up on the spine of the obstacle, as if steadily and surely walking on the ground.
In his own words, “If I were a piss, then my work would be the vapor. Even piss can eventually merge into rivers and oceans. Why should it pretend to be a rich and strong bottled whiskey?”
Jiang’s drive for truth motivates his expression. He hopes to benefit directly from his work, obtaining strong and concise ideas and an insightful eye. In the end, how an artist sees art is how he or she sees life, its essence being human activities.
Jiang isn’t entitled to teach us any lessons, nor is he interested in doing so. All he can do is serve us a glass of water. We are free to choose to drink it, pour it away, spill it out on someone’s face, watch our own reflection in it or use it to put out a fire. Jiang isn’t going to do anything for us with that water. He can and will only “put it in”.
Jiang Li was born in Jinhua, China in 1985. He currently lives and works in Beijing. His recent solo exhibition includes: Showerer (2017), KANYABERLIN, Berlin, Germany and Girl (2015), CAFA International Gallery, Beijing, China. He also participated in Historicode: Scarcity and Supply - The 3rd Nanjing International Art Festival (2016), curated by Lu Peng, held at BJL Museum, Nanjing, China.