Li, the gesture Li speaks through his pencil

Li speaks through his pencil, expansive and lush. His pencil sketches, goes back and forth, avoids minutia but nevertheless leaves a mark, a form that suddenly comes to life on raw rice paper, paper sometimes as big as a length of tapestry cloth. Several lengths might be glued together to reach unique formats such as his latest 2017 works : 20 meters long x 1 meter wide.

The drawing emerges progressively from the crumpled folds of paper. Once the sketch is in place, then the ink appears : ink, the ink stone on which the ink stick can be rubbed, water, the various size brushes, depending on the desired effect. If the paper is very big, Li starts at an end like a cobbler, with the remnant falling over his feet.

The gesture is complex and goes back and forth on the surface but its profusion sharpens his precision just as a pencil sharpens with each sharpening. The line is repeated, thickens, blurs ; from the overlappings one emerges and this will structure the areas of ink and shading that will come. But the line is always there, a fine structure beneath the range of ink that goes against the great Chinese tradition, that of carrying out an expression in one stroke with the corollary of erasing all the lines leading to this perfect execution.

Li draws, advances by additions, never erases, adds little pieces of glued paper, kinds of patches that give matter to the torn paper.

This is all part of his finished subject.

Philippe Pataud Célérier

More on this story :

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