Li’s identity as an artist was forged in the intense crucible of China’s emergence as a world superpower in the second half of the 20th century. Navigating the dramatic political and artistic upheavals of this time, his story is one of constant searching for a personal voice that could both fulfill the “great synthesis” of Chinese art sought by centuries of artists, as well as reorient ink painting within a contemporary international context. This search led him from early training in the traditions of his native Shanghai and academic European oil painting, to a first job as a teenager making Socialist Realist propaganda murals during the Cultural Revolution, to Abstract Expressionism after immigrating to the United States, and ultimately to the stunning monumental landscapes of his mature, uniquely individual style.
This exhibition will trace the artist’s career over three decades, through 33 paintings lent from more than a dozen international private collections. It will include recent works never before seen by the public, as well as highlights from various stages of his artistic growth, in formats from hanging scrolls and gold screens to installations.
The main exhibition will be accompanied by a focus exhibition in the Atsuhiko & Ina Tateuchi Thematic Gallery, juxtaposing Li’s contemporary interpretations of the Buddhist concept of the Pure Land with historic artworks from the museum’s collection, including HoMA’s renowned 14th century Taima Mandala.
This exhibition is made possible with generous support by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Maurice and Joanna Sullivan Family Foundation, Gene and Cecilia Doo, Donald and Laura Goo, Ernest and Letah Lee, Fred Sheng and Robert Oaks, William and Margaret Won and two anonymous donors.