Vermilion Art unveils a new exhibition showcasing Chinese artist Li Jin

Li Jin

Vermilion Art unveils a new exhibition showcasing Chinese artist Li Jin

For the last five years, Vermilion Art has been showcasing contemporary Chinese art, with the goal of introducing outstanding Chinese artists and their works to Australian collectors, art institutions and the public.

Being a bilingual gallery in the heart of Sydney, Vermilion Art has become a strong platform for both emerging and established Chinese artists to display their works and to participate in intercultural exchange.

Most recently, the gallery has unveiled To Live [It Up], an exhibition of celebrated artist Li Jin’s works. The exhibition has been expertly curated by John McDonald, art critic and long-standing admirer of Li Jin.

Li Jin

Li Jin

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Unlike traditional Chinese art, which emphasises close study and mastering of specific techniques, Li Jin takes on what John calls a ‘rough and ready approach’.

Li Jin is very knowledgeable about brush and ink traditions and is also a skilled calligrapher, but has ultimately developed his own style characterised by spontaneity and positivity.

“Rather than pursuing very rigid traditional techniques, he is more interested in grabbing hold of the things about him, and responding quickly and instantly in a very free way…it’s almost journalistic,” John explained.

Li Jin’s unique approach is also evident in the subject matter he portrays. Visitors of the exhibition will take note of the playfulness, humour and self-deprecating tone that he adopts to depict scenes of everyday life.

Many of the selected paintings depict people wearing masks, but these are often masquerade or carnival-style masks. In this way, Li Jin makes subtle reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also exploring the roles played by masks as tools of fantasy or disguise.

“Li Jin doesn’t ever deal with issues. He deals with situations, and he deals with interactions between people.”

Li Jin

The title To Live [It Up] speaks to the ambiguity of Li Jin’s work. To Live is a celebrated novel by Yu Hua, which chronicles the trials and tribulations faced by the son of a wealthy land-owner amidst the Chinese Revolution. John explained that this story parallels some of the challenges Li Jin has endured in his own life, as well as those of many Chinese people.

“With Li Jin, it made him stronger. It gave him a sense that one must not dwell upon the bad things passed, but rather grasp life as it appears in front of you without barricading or holding back,” John added.

John believes that people of all backgrounds will be able to appreciate and empathise with Li Jin’s art. He has a strong following in Australia, particularly in Sydney, and John looks forward to connecting Australians with Li Jin once again.

Event details:
WHEN: 5 Nov – 12 Dec 2020
WHERE: Vermilion Art, 5/16 Hickson Road Walsh Bay Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

Isabel Zakharova

Isabel Zakharova is a final-year student at UTS, studying Communications and International Studies. She loves reading, writing and exploring other cultures - through travel, film and cuisine. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]