Beijing artist’s works at the Ybl Buda Creative House
Li Qiang has a critical view of the paper-based media that flood the streets, swarming us with waste – this could be the summary of the message expressed by the Beijing artist, who has integrated book and newspaper tearing into the creative process. Several of the artworks have especially been made for the Budapest exhibition, introducing the novelties enriching Li Qiang’s special style and technique.
Li Qiang, born in 1966, is a well-known member of the Beijing art society. In his art mainstream he turns his back on mass products - that are considered as important part of everyday life - with a clear gesture and trivialize them: the pages of magazines containing advertisements companies pay huge sums for are torn by him into pieces, and as a result of the conscious tearing and chopping a new layer of interpretation evolves. A multitude of newspapers, that is advertising spaces, are thus transformed into a peacefully murmuring sea, a knowledge-symbolizing pile of books or the portraits of great philosophers.
The artist, living and creating in Beijing, has been introduced at various individual exhibitions all around China. His works have also been invited to international art shows. For example, he had a solo exhibition at the New York Eli Klein Gallery, and together with others he had the chance to participate at the acknowledged Voice of the Unseen exhibition in Venice, an event accompanying the 2013 Biennale.
Li Qiang has a critical view of the paper-based media that flood the streets every single dawn, swarming us with waste – this is how Su Dan, Deputy Manager of Tsinghua University summarized the message conveyed by the Beijing artist, who has integrated book and newspaper tearing into the creative process.
“Tearing significantly differs from collage technique”
“With the help of my works I can study social groups, the development of the city and the decline of the countryside – as reflected in the historic progress of China. Equality, freedom and individual rights; these represent the basic needs of present-day Chinese people, and, at the same time, the basic topics of my art”, this is how Li Qiang has defined his ars poetica. We tried to get to know how he works and what he is dealing with.
“When staring at a work of mine, it is not only a richly illustrated abstract landscape one can see. The historic panorama of continuously changing Chinese culture is also included.”, said Li Qiang.
“My huge sized abstract installations are created by using magazines, newspapers and books as medium. By applying a unique technique, these data carriers are connected to each other, and their freedom is expanded after having been released from the boundaries of frame and space, and as a result, they themselves turn into language and material”, explained the artist the process of creation.
The creative process is built upon removal, “withdrawal”
“My creative process significantly differs from collage technique”, he continued, “because by fitting various materials to each other, the gesture of ‘addition’ is implemented. My ‘phraseology’ is built upon removal, “withdrawal”. The images and information hidden in the various layers turn into abstract lines and patterns in the course of tearing.
“How can new meaning be withdrawn from an old narrative? Where shall one search for relationship with real life in old pictures? Or where is tradition and the expression of the past hidden in real images? Searching for the answer to these questions means the main inspiration of my artistic language.
My interest in images derive from the deeper exploration of their meaning and questioning them. I enter a work in a unique manner when I visualize the map of the city and the position of the buildings in the form a tree – you can also see the unlimited expansion of the city, in which the strength and power of humans gradually pale into insignificance.”
Su Dan (in a white hat) analyses the work entitled The Budapest tree 2018 at the curator’s guided tour
“The work is the expression of my unique situation and attitude. By moving from a tiny, far away village of Jiangsu province to Beijing, the political and cultural centre of China, I could see the unlimited expansion of the city, changing the living space of its inhabitants. People arriving from various locations can achieve different spaces based on their social backgrounds.
With the help of my art I can study social groups, the development of the city and the decline of the countryside, as reflected in the historic progress of China. Equality, freedom and individual rights; these represent the basic needs of present-day Chinese people, and, at the same time, the basic topics of my art”, this is how Li Qiang has defined his ars poetica. “When staring at a work of mine, it is not only a richly illustrated abstract landscape one can see. The historic panorama of continuously changing Chinese culture is also included.”, he emphasized.
Tearing as a creative technique
Budapest as a source of inspiration
Several of Li Qiang’s works have been created especially for the Ybl House based exhibition. Furthermore, Budapest was an inspiration for not only the title-work of the exhibition. As a proof, here follows a poem of the artist.
A csobogó Duna
Minden versből folyó lesz,
És minden folyóból vers.
A mondat új mondattá,
A folyó új folyóvá válik.
A nyelvet elhallgattatja más nyelv.
A történelemről más történelem beszél.
Li Qiang at the opening ceremony, in front of his work entitled The Flowing Danube, 2017
Art and life of Li Qiang
The artist was born in a tiny village of Jiangsu province in 1966.
In his prints made in the 1990s it was especially the simple pattern of rural culture that played a central role.
From around 2000 he started to expand his artistic toolkit by using images, installations, movements and other media, so that he could express the art of the countryside with a deeper content.
Since 2009 books and magazines have also been included in his work as media, and this was the year when, uniquely, tearing became his artistic technique.
The historic panorama of continuously changing Chinese culture is also included in his works
By tearing colour and writing off from books and magazines originally including lots of images and texts, he transforms them into simple lines and letters. Every single line comes alive by withdrawing the colours around them, and every single letter becomes a letter indeed by tearing off the loads of texts around them. During this process the original images and texts turn into scraps of paper. By using this tearing technique, he deteriorates traditional media, then recreates them.
VÁLOGATOTT EGYÉNI KIÁLLÍTÁSOK A KÖZELMÚLTBÓL
Apró darabokra tépem a világot, majd abból raklak össze téged – Beijing Art Club, Peking
A Test Kinyilatkoztatása – 798, Yue Art Gallery, Peking
Könyvtár Projekt Sorozat – Klein Sun Gallery, New York
Isten Szilánkjai – 798, Yue Art Gallery, Peking
Vad Ösvény – Xishen Art Space, Peking
Mobiltelefon Napló – Shanghai Zendai MoMA, Sanghaj
VÁLOGATOTT CSOPORTOS KIÁLLÍTÁSOK A KÖZELMÚLTBÓL
A Civilizáció Visszhangja – Central Academy of Fine Arts, Jingdezhen
Könyvtárrendszer – részvétel a Központi Művészeti Akadémia biennáléján
Tépés – részvétel a kínai olajfestmény biennálén, Központi Művészeti Akadémia, Peking
Népi Hatalom – Minsheng Art Museum, Peking
Fúziós Konvergencia – T Museum, Hangzhou
Voice of the Unseen – Kínai Független Művészet 1979-től napjainkig
A Velencei Biennálé kísérő kiállítása
Útkeresés – Frederieke Taylor Gallery, New York
Morbid: Művészetünk Ma – Nanjing Art Museum, Nanjing
FŐBB MŰVEI GYŰJTEMÉNYEKBEN
White Rabbit Gallery (Sydney); Kínai Képzőművészeti Akadémia; Központi Képzőművészeti Akadémia Múzeuma; Shanghai Művészeti Múzeum; Nemzetközi Művészeti Köztér Múzeum; Jiangsu Művészeti Múzeum; Sichuan Szépművészeti Akadémia Művészeti Múzeuma; Yue Art Gallery (New York)