CHINA DAILY -BEIJING BORN PAINTER BACK TO CONQUER CHINA
中国日报 China Daily
17 May 2010
Beijing-born painter back to conquer China By Qin Zhongwei (China Daily)
Li Chevalier wants to bring her understanding of modern Chinese art through peaceful and quiet expression. [Provided to China Daily] ....
"From May 26 to 31, Beijing's premier location for contemporary art - Today Art Museum - will feature a solo exhibition of her[ li chevalier] works, the first time her paintings will be shown in China.
While contemporary Chinese art is widely considered as overwhelmingly noisy, neurotic, satirical and provocative visual shocks, Chevalier wants to bring her understanding of modern Chinese art through peaceful and quiet expression.
Chevalier didn't start out to paint. When she was 14, she was picked to join the army's opera troupe as a folk singer and was trained to sing. It wasn't until the 1990s, when she was in her 30s and after she studied philosophy at Sorbonne University in Paris, that she began to formally study painting, initially in Florence then at the avant-garde Central St Martins College of Arts and Design in London. All along, she never thought it was too late to switch, or that she had "wasted" the days she learnt singing, reading Chinese and Western philosophy, or traveling to other countries. "It's unlike learning a musical instrument where it would be better to start as early as possible," Chevalier said. "To be an outstanding artist requires profound insights and rich living experiences, rather than just repeated practicing," she said.
These living experiences helped Chevalier achieve depth and complexity in her works, and most importantly, gather inspiration from traditional Chinese culture and its painting, thus helping her established a style all her own. Her study of philosophy certainly paid off. And her experimental style, identified with the use of Chinese ink and other materials on canvas, shows off an Oriental aesthetic quest, usually through an abstract world in white and black, which she says symbolized the inner balance existing between yin (the receiving force) and yang (giving force) - a theory of Chinese cosmology. "I try to avoid the convulsive explosions of color, and the oriental philosophical posture is translated on my canvas by the choice of forms and colors reduced to its most primal," Chevalier said. "The vacuity symbolized by the glaring empty space on my works is not inertia but a potential to come."
This unique and abstract style has brought Chevalier the honor of displaying her works at the London Royal Academy of Arts' famed "Summer Exhibition" and "L'Art en Capital" at the Grand Palais, the new gallery of the Louvre museum in Paris. Her upcoming exhibition in Beijing has also been selected as one of the important segments of the 2010 Festival Croisements between China and France.
Chevalier said China's contemporary art scene is still "a man's world" and the dominating impression about contemporary art is related to something satirical or provocative. "As such, there might be some 'time differences' between the Chinese art world and its Western counterpart, and Chinese art lovers and collectors might find it difficult to appreciate my paintings," she said. Chevalier said that while the contemporary art scene in China is still dominated by pop art trends, a strong cultural stand will ensure Chinese art survives. "As the society now runs at a much faster pace with people chasing their desires while losing patience, I hope visitors to my exhibition can forget the world temporarily and get an aesthetic and peaceful feeling," she said.
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