INK studio is proud to announce its exclusive representation of the pivotal new series of monochrome paintings by internationally renowned artist Li Jin. Inaugurating a new phase his career, these paintings will be revealed in the upcoming exhibition, Li Jin: Being, which will open on May 28, 2016. The exhibition is curated by Artistic Director Britta Erickson, who for years has been discussing with the artist the possibilities of pure ink.
The easily recognizable paintings of Li Jin's (b. 1958, Tianjin) middle period present scenes of consumption and sexual intimacy, filled with images of food and quirky figures reveling in the pleasures of the flesh. The color and subject matter are so beguiling that the brushwork can go unnoticed. Now, having explored the subtleties of color washes for two decades, Li Jin has translated them into a masterful and yet free-spirited control of what is traditionally called the "five colors of ink." It is as if he has constantly honed his brushwork behind a veil of color and humor, and now finally lifts the veil for us to appreciate the results.
Li Jin painted the new monochrome series on an immersive scale, working both on the floor and on the wall. Made in large expressive gestures with specially made brushes, the paintings recall the xieyi and "splashed-ink" manners of traditional masters like Liang Kai, Xu Wei, and Bada Shanren. Fully embracing the self-portrait, Li Jin harkens back to the very origins of the aesthetics of Chinese painting—portraiture of moral paragons and extraordinary persons such as the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. Here his quasi-autobiographical figures are no longer contemporary merrymakers, but resemble ascetics and spiritual adepts of a timeless past. Vegetables and cuts of meat, too, gain personalities and moods of their own as independent subjects rendered much larger than life.
The new series occupies INK studio's first floor galleries. On the third floor, we present his rarely-seen paintings from the 1980's and 1990's, when he was a young wanderer and sojourner in Tibet in search of an authentic and primal connection to nature. Pulsating with the intensity and fragility of life that he experienced there, the Tibet-period works relate strikingly to his new series, which itself represents another return to a pure and unencumbered state of creativity. Seeing both together, one gains a holistic view of Li Jin as artist and thinker, with all his desires, ambitions, pleasures, and fears—of Li Jin in the entirety of his being.