Artist Research- Li Yan

The Chinese artist Li Yan presents disasters in the medium of oil paint.

His series Accident 10 (Fukushima) explores events and scenes surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear Plant after the damaging earthquake in Japan, 2011.

The style of painting is quite graphical/linear and the pallet is limited and colours are subdued.

Yan’s work has very strong context and depicts scenes from real situations. The scenes themselves almost seem banal on the surface, however each piece in a series makes up the narrative for the viewer to engage with. The work successfully recreates this narrative by producing scenes with intimate details.

Accident Series 5 & 6

Text on Li from artist profile on Saatchi Gallery website:

Li Yan’s Accident series Nos. 5 & 6 deal with the phenomenon of horror. Approaching painting as a forensic activity, Li’s works are comprised of groups of small canvases to reconstruct disaster scenes as elaborate narratives. Following the format of media reportage, each painting contributes a different perspective to the drama, presenting ‘evidence’ as fragmented info bytes for viewer scrutiny and re-assemblage.

Hung in asymmetrical configurations, Li’s canvases invite open interpretation, with each panel operating both independent of and interconnected to the whole, construing event as non-linear and subjective. Maps, car wrecks, bombed out buildings, and mug shots take equal importance to more benign scenes of barbershops, saucy marching bands, and holiday parasailers; like all good crime stories terror is enhanced by its everyday banality, and the devil is in the details.


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Filed under MA Fine Art, Musings

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