Pékin Fine Arts (Hong Kong) is pleased to host their first solo exhibit of pioneering avant-garde artist Mao Lizi. A founding member of the 1979-1980 “Stars Group” of Beijing unofficial grass-roots artists, Mao Lizi’s first exhibitions were in protest against the lack of official recognition and support for artists working outside the State system. Initially self-taught, Mao Lizi later obtained a master’s degree from the Oil Painting Dept. of Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1987. After nearly ten years in Paris, Mao Lizi returned to Beijing and took up work as an artist, architect and designer. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world and is widely collected in China and internationally.
In his latest series of semi-abstract monochrome paintings Mao Lizi continues his study of traditional Chinese painting language, this time rendering ink wash and ink dry-brush painting techniques using oil on canvas. Remaining true to his avant-garde roots, Mao insists on employing oil on canvas to capture the spirit of ink painting. The results are subtle and highly skilled renderings of semi-abstract imagery, shadows of nature: focusing mainly on deceptively simple shapes of flower petals, water and landscape.
In approaching oil on canvas in the same way a traditional painter treats ink and brush on Chinese xuan paper, Mao takes big technical risks: There is little chance to correct the composition once brushstrokes touch the canvas in these minimalist studies of how paint moves across canvas. At the same time, the vast empty spaces of each composition must be treated with equal weight, so they remain “alive”, as integral fields to overall compositions. One slip of the brush, in and among the empty backdrop of his canvas, and the work must be discarded, and Mao Lizi must start over. The result is a hard-to-achieve cohabitation of restraint and boldness in the artist’s painting.
Mao Lizi’s paintings have transitioned over the years from highly skilled photo-realist painter to non-representational abstract image making, affirming with each canvas a shift of the artist’s focus, as he continues to move away from the concrete to the increasingly abstract painting world. In these recent paintings on exhibit in Hong Kong, we see a mature artist with rich experience, enjoying the action of abstract painting and the freedom of expression that only comes later in life, after achieving great control of one’s medium and deep understanding of one’s environment.
About the exhibition
Date: May 28 – Aug 10, 2016
Venue: Pékin Fine Arts
Courtesy of the artist and Pékin Fine Arts, for further information please visit http://pekinfinearts.com.