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Li Manjin : Portfolio

Let’s start at the beginning: when did you first discover your passion for art?

I was raised in a small village on the outskirts of Fujian, and as young children we really didn’t get exposed to art at all. I remember the first time I saw art was seeing my fifth grade art teacher making a figurative sketch, and I was absolutely spellbound after that. To me it was like magic, how a sketch could render something from real life onto paper and look so realistic. I signed up for an art class in middle school, which ended up being a private tutoring class because I was literally the only student who signed up.

From these humble beginnings, what brought you to Beijing?

When I graduated from art school in 2005, there really wasn’t much a defined careerpath in Chinese society for professional artists. Virtually all my friends went on to become art teachers, but I somehow felt that that wouldn’t be the right path for me. One of my professors suggested to me that the Songzhuang neighborhood in Beijing was absolutely the place to be in if I wanted to pursue being an artist. In hindsight I was perhaps a bit impulsive in my youth, but at the time I just literally packed my bags and came to Songzhuang without a clue as to how I was going to live.

This professor must have major influence on your art then?

For sure. He’s a traditional Chinese guohua ink painter and I didn’t end up adopting this style of art, but what I admired about him was his grit. He was from that generation of the Cultural Revolution where artists were persecuted. His home was originally in Beijing, and it was political exile that brought him to Fujian where he ended up teaching.

So stylistically, where do you get the inspirations for your art?

There are still certain elements of guohua painting techniques I suppose, I really like the works by one of our old masters Huang Binhong from the late 1800s. Meanwhile in the west at that time it was the post-impressionist period, and I really love the works of Giovanni Giacometti and Paul Cezanne.

How do these inspirations manifest themselves through your artwork?

I’ve always been most interested in using painting as a medium for bringing life to another dimension. The works of Giacometti and Cezanne moves me to the core, like there’s somehow a soul in those paintings that I connect with. I’ve always pursued that through my own artworks as well. Thematically you can say my works portray the countryside life of my childhood, albeit idealized through the context of nostalgia rather than portraiture. When I consider the animals and plants in my paintings, I always feel emotionally connected to them, like we somehow share the common experiences of being vulnerable, being wanderers, being outsiders in the context of this society.

Would you say this emotional connection is the most important characteristic of your art?

Definitely. The root interest of all my artwork is to be a medium for sharing my life’s emotions and experiences with the viewers. To me this is the most important consideration of my integrity, and all the skills and techniques of the actual painting process is simply a means to this end. I tend to paint one canvas at a time, and I find that every work ends up being its own emotional journey. I start a blank canvas always in a heat of passion, and that excitement and optomism steadily declines as I delve into the artwork itself. I usually spend weeks on any given painting, and during that time there is always this “darkest before the dawn” moment that I must break through before putting the finishing touches on a painting.
Li Manjin

Born 1981 in Fujian China. Lives and works in Beijing China


2005     BFA, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou China

Solo Exhibitions

2017     LONER, Changjiang Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing China

2014     The Intangible Paradise, Joyart Gallery, Beijing China

2013     LONER, SIGNATURE Fine Arts, Beijing China

2010     Reaching for Meaning, Singapore

Group Exhibitions

2017     MULTI DIMENSION II, Riverside Art Museum, Beijing China

THE GOLDEN ROOSTER, Yang Gallery, Beijing China

2016     Opening Exhibition, Ark:IF Art Salon, Qingdao China

ON PAPER SPACE, Bird’s Nest Culture Center, Beijing China

ON PAPER - SUPREME, Ban Club, Shanghai China

ON PAPER- SUPREME, The National Convention Center, Shanghai China

2015     On the Shelf, 798 Roses Art Center, Beijing China

Together On The Path - “Critical Traditionalism” Youth Exhibition, Ovation Art Space, Beijing China

2014     Brave New World, Naked Eye, Beijing China

11+6-Rheology American-China Exchange Of Contemporary Art, Wang Yiqiong Art Space, Beijing China

2013     Korea-China Exchange Of Contemporary Art, Yuanzhou Paper Museum, Korea

ON PAPER- SUPREME, Jiuchang Art Center, Beijing China

Anti-GMO, Tang Conternporary Art Center, Beijing China

Korea-China Exchange Of Contemporary Art, 508Gallery, City Korea

The 115 Artists’ Self-Portraits, Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing China

2012     Made in China, Contemporary Chinese Artists, Luciano Benetton Collection, Milan Italy

CultureDesert-KUBUQI Contemporary Art Exhibition, KUBUQI Contemporary Art Center, Neimeng China

2011     Existence Without Immortality - Modern Female Artists Exhibition, Millennial Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing China

Art Archives Of the 80's Generation, Songzhuang Museum, Beijing China

Deconstruction And Style, Manet Club, Beijing China

Spring Chill, LDX Conternporary Art Center, Beijing China

Oriental Artists Exhibition, San Francisco Cultural Arts Center, San Francisco California

MERRY-GO-ROUND, Times Art Museum, Beijing China

2010     New Wave Of Chinese Contemporary Art, California State University City, City California

Contemporary Artists Group Exhibition, Y2 ARTS Showroom, Singapore

2009     10 Contemporary Artists, Y2 ARTS Showroom, Singapore

2008     Living in Songzhuang, Female Artist Exhibition, Songzhuang Arts Museum, Beijing China

Body And Heart, 798 Mulpa Spaces, Beijing China

2007     Opening Exhibition, Rainbow Bay International Art Centre, Beijing China

He, 1 Art Base A-SPACE, Beijing China

The Jungle Series

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