Li Jie—“Depictions of Time”, the Simple Life Attitude in the Post-Industrial Era

TEXT:Sue Wang    DATE: 2019.4.27

Albert Camus once said that, no artist can live without reality. Art can question reality, but art cannot escape from reality. Compared with most mature artworks, the living conditions and life stories behind the art production seem to be more intriguing. Taking from the first-person perspective, CAFA ART INFO is now presenting you with our latest micro video program, “Art Walk: Behind the Scenes”. With a focus on individual artists’ life stories, we will take you on a tour to explore how an artist actually works and lives in real-life situations. This series will be filmed at a part of the artists’ studios at some art districts in Beijing. Each artist’s unique character will be revealed to our audience in a more realistic and tangible way.

“Art Walk: Behind the Scenes”

Episode 12: Li Jie

(Time:03' 22'')

Li Jie, Fasteners • 1161 Hours, rice paper, light ink, 2007-2009

Li Jie was born in Luoyang, Henan province. At the beginning of the 1990s, she came to Beijing and devoted herself to contemporary art activities along with her friends. Li Jie’s art creations include line drawings and films. The main topic of her work is around everyday objects, like fruits and vegetables, and some mechanical items like screws.

Li Jie, Nails• 996, rice paper, light ink, 60x240cm, 2007-2008

Li Jie, Fasteners • 176 Hours, rice paper, light ink, 60x60cm, 2007

In her early years, Li Jie used to be a worker in a tractor factory in Luoyang, and she was responsible for managing and organizing the mechanical parts in the storage room, thus she became familiar with the parts and structures of tractors and how they were made. This experience has later influenced her art career. Her works often involve the portrayal of a screw and different kinds of mechanical parts. Li Jie’s works don’t have any color or much evidence of sculpture or forms. Her works are not a result of deliberate practice, or a game to puzzle people’s minds. When spectators look at the drawings of thousands of screws with meticulous details and textures, they can feel their time and memories flowing like invisible waves, in and out of the drawings, penetrating through their bodies. Such experience is like a song that always rhymes with subtlety.

Li Jie, Vegetable Series No.1, rice paper, light ink, 60x135cm, 2009


Li Jie, Vegetable Series • Pumpkin, ink on paper, 47x57cm, 2005

Li Jie, who is good at cooking, loves to shop in the food markets. She is often intrigued by the rich selection of vegetables in the markets. With strong curiosity, Li Jie transforms the vegetables, from a three-dimensional, transient and colorful existence, to a black-and-white eternity of ink on the paper. Watching the eggplants and pumpkins on the table that she bought for lunch, Li Jie is driven by an idea that’s even more urgent than appetite. She takes her brush and paper and starts to carefully depict the scene stroke by stroke. She immerses herself into the elegant lines, the ecstasy of life. Vegetables, which seem to be plain and boring everyday artifacts, reflect the artist’s most simplistic attitude to life.

Li Jie, Fabric Series M 12, ink on paper, 66x137cm, 2015

Li Jie, Scarf, rice paper, light ink, 60x220cm, 2009

Image Courtesy of the artist and CAFA ART INFO.