li Chevalier Oriental Art Museum Venice

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 In the back setting of Venice Biennale 2024, the Oriental Art Museum of Venice offers its visitos an exceptional encounter with the creative universe of the Franco-Chinese artist Li Chevalier. This monographic exhibition, which brings together a selection of some thirty major works by the artist, is for her, a tribute to Venice which she discovered at the beginning of the 90s, a city which decisively changed her trajectory.


Born in China, having flourished on European soil since the 80s, she graduated from Sorbonne in Philosophy and was a singer in the choir of the Orchestre De Paris; it was in Venice that Li Chevalier took her first Italian language lesson some 30 years ago. Speaking Italian was not only for her to better interpret bel canto but above all to never return to earth again, once propelled into the orbit of visual art creation following her overwhelming encounter with Venice, with Italy, its art heritage. Li Chevalier thus began her extensive art training in Venice then in Florence, Rome, exploring drawing, engraving and classical painting. All this led her to a postgraduate degree in contemporary art at Central Saint Martins in London in 2007.


Living and working between Europe and Asia, Li Chevalier has chosen to revisit ink and brush, an ancient Chinese medium often confined to tradition.This return was a choice “to confront oriental medium with western contemporary pictorial techniques”: mixture of Chinese ink with the very essence of composition, materials so specific to the European pictorial approach: Canvas, collage, texture. This “return” was also a choice to confront an oriental aesthetics with a world vision made of doubt and redemption, humanism and solitude, which draws on the sources of Western philosophy.


Li Chevalier does not create without putting music on a pedestal. unsurprisingly refers to a musical piece by Japanese composer Toro Takemitzu but is also a nod to the winter mist of the Venice Laguna, which draws us immediately into a musical tone charged with mystery, silence, the lyrism of the dreaming water. The exhibition offers a site-specific installation that dialogues with the Collection of the Museum of Oriental Art of Venice, one of the largest collections of Asian art in Italy. The exhibition hall located since 1928 on the third floor of Ca' Pesaro where contemporary exhibitions alternate and enrich the classical collection of the museum, as it is the case with the Li Chevalier's exhibition under the scientific direction of Marta Boscolo Marchi, Director of the Oriental Art Museum with the notable contributions of French art critic Olivier Kaeppelin, former Director of the Maeght Foundation ,President of the Palais de Tokyo , the Chinese Art critic Tao Wang, Director of the Asian art department at the Art Institute of Chicago.


In the current climate of tension, distrust, brutality and intolerance which is darkening our sky, the art of Li Chevalier offers us a vision of a humanism gratifying our senses with a poetic vibe. The exhibition carves out an encouraging version of interculturality, which deserves its own chapter in the history of ink painting of the 21st century, as written by artists of the Chinese diaspora, drunk with freedom and new cultural encounters.

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