Li’s transition to pure abstraction was abrupt: in 1998, after a long and successful career painting landscapes and figures, Li abandoned representation and began to produce grids like these. Li’s sudden renunciation of narrative content, subject matter, and autographic brushwork, as well as any wish to explain his artistic motivation, bespeaks an independent, even defiant personality in keeping with his career up to that point. Li’s grids are drawn freehand, and to execute such long, straight lines of consistent thickness demands extraordinary brush control and concentration. Li sees this painstaking process as an embodiment of time, like visual records of a meditative state.
Property of the artist, Li Huasheng, currently consigned to Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.