Sunday, 18 December 2016

Li Wenmin

11 December - 8 January 2017      Contemplative Shadow

"what you are you do not see, what you see is your shadow."

Li Wenmin. Contemplative Shadow. 2016. Enamel paint, plastic, paper and light installation.

Li Wenmin's art is centered on experiences and emotions of life through her distinctly poetic and imaginative sensibility towards cultural and social concerns through her mark-making process. 

Born in China, and currently lives and works in Sydney, it was the confrontation with issues of unrest arising from cultural and social differences in her new country that inspired her expression.  It is an ongoing search towards understanding of tradition in fluctuating contexts.

Li's interest in shadows has been a very important element in her art practice for many years. She often wonders about how much we know of the world and its shadows; or, ourselves and our shadows, whether 'shadow' balances our egos in life. 

Inspired by Chinese traditional art, paper-cut and shadow puppetry, Li has created a world in Contemplative Shadows that blurs boundaries through images of revealing and concealing, presenting and withdrawing, capturing the complex world we live in.  Similarly, Contemplative Shadows changes with the changing light throughout the day in the interplay of sunlight, artificial light and darkness, offering unexpected poetic emotion and aesthetics to the passersby.

Li's work has been exhibited internationally in Australia, UK, Japan, China, South Korea and Hong Kong since 1997. She has also presented her work at international conferences.   Li lectures at UNSW Art and Design, Sydney. Her work is now represented by Flinders Street Gallery.

Li Wenmin will be showing collaborative work with her father at Flinders Street Gallery in February 2017.

Li Wenmin, December 2016

Li Wenmin has used shadow as the focus of this work, as the tangible we can 'see' of ourselves, a metaphor of our limitation in self knowledge.  It is also the vehicle Wenmin uses to express the  'complexity' to our reality,  'life'.  This complexity is captured by the change of the installation throughout the day as natural light changes, and the artificial light emerges as the sun sets.  This change also embodies the shifts of emotions and thoughts, a condition that is intrinsic in being human.

For some time now, Li has also used bird to symbolise her life as a migrant. The shadow of the bird, not very clear in these images, sits on a lotus leave, a symbol of asian culture.  This life changing event has added a layer to the complexity that comes with displacement and living among differences.  The falling shadow figure appears to be reaching for the bird perched on the lotus leaf.  Perhaps it is the desire to bring into harmony her culture of birth with that of adopted country.

Li's work has transported timeless beauty of traditional Chinese painting sensibilities onto the street of Botany Road.  The use of Chinese art and craft of paper cuts and shadow puppetry has converted the Slot window gallery space into a large light box, a Chinese lantern with changing images.

Anie Nheu