Tang Contemporary Art is proud to announce that “Li Qing Solo Project,” curated by Cui Cancan, will open on December 20 in the Hong Kong space. Beginning with the artist’s identity as an Other, this project reflects on the dialogue between past and present in Hong Kong. The artist’s complex memories of Hong Kong and superficial, fragmentary impressions become creative materials in his work. Through the interaction and refraction of painting, installation, and video, Li constructs a new system of visual perception. In the one-year discussion between the curator and the artist about the project, they interacted through both textual and visual means. The artist chose and arranged phrases that the curator had published on social media during 2016, in order to compose an artist-created preface.
Neighbor’s Window is an important series in Li Qing’s creative explorations. He brings together physical window frames and paintings of scenes outside the window, creating a fictional interaction between the viewer and the scenery. In this personal project in Hong Kong, Li Qing chose the Chinese characters for “Emanating Glory,” “Returning Triumphant,” and “Sweet,” as well as other neon lights as the scenes outside the window. These characters were taken from everyday Hong Kong streets and Hong Kong’s past. They are mainlanders’ typical impressions of cities such as Hong Kong. Re-examining these explorations from the perspective of the present, their functions, properties, and meanings have shifted in time; they seem familiar, but they have become less distinct due to the shift in time and space. Feelings of uncertainty are aroused by these alienated visions.
Li Qing was born in the 1980s, and Hong Kong films carry special memories of Hong Kong culture for people of his generation. The depiction of urban subjects in Hong Kong films gave mainland viewers their first taste of modern life. Hong Kong erotic films from that time were very popular; they were a special window that allowed young people to transcend taboos and see the world. In Two Films, erotic scenes appear amidst an open-air film by the sea, opening the most private of performances to the vastness of nature. Between short-lived rules and the infinite expanse of nature, we look for the traces of the people that the artist suggests, a subject that lies between division and confrontation. Like a CD that is continually reworked, memory is embellished by circumstances, presenting different meanings because of these circumstances.
The sea is an eternity beyond all change. Waves, fish, shuttling boats, and the distant horizon are an outlet, allowing people living in cities to temporarily escape reality, but it is also a vehicle for the unknowns in people’s lives. The video work Sea collages scenes of various figures facing the sea; these scenes come from different types of films from around the world. The story has no beginning and no end; it only contains itself and its own hopes. The sea and those who confront it constitute a set of layered symbols. Removed from their original context, they present humanity’s intrinsic spiritual similitude in a complex world.
Neon lights, films, and the sea overlap in Li Qing’s work; in different contexts, texts and pictures present different semantic meanings and become dislocated because of these semantic meanings. The complex relationships between them are knitted together into Li Qing’s appraisal of memory and scenery in Hong Kong. As he says in the exhibition preface, in the moment that the relationship between the curator and the artist is reversed, the customary understanding or memory moves toward a new state. We must seek out the deeper meaning of this exhibition behind the artist’s actions. What processes does a mode of understanding undergo in different times and places, why does this understanding change, what causes it to change, and what possibilities does this change imply?