Chaos, In An Almost Classical Mode
“In the studio, childhood memories in a small ancient city, observations of contemporary cultural and social forces, mythological and historical references, the desire to breach the language decorum… countless sources come and go during the process, but it is the intimate sensation that gives the work its plot.”
— Fei Li
Fei Li's latest work is a painter's attempt to create a visual encyclopedia of man’s absurdity and tragedy against the irresistible force of time and space. Li investigates the capacity for chaos inside a rigorous and coherent structure as she purposefully uses small oil pastel sticks on large surfaces. Her approach, is oblique, walking a tightrope between coherence and pandemonium. Inspired by the parallel between James Joyce's Ulysses and Homer's Odyssey, these works use the structure of historical artworks as their reference point. For example, in the diptych painting Anomie, the left panel is based on Persian miniature paintings from The Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp while the right panel is based on Bellini's Saint Jerome Reading. In the piece Past Continuous, the artist uses the ancient Chinese calligrapher Huaisu's cursive script of an Indian Buddhist Sutra (Sutra of Forty-two Chapters) to fabricate a pictorial landscape space.
Born in China, Fei Li lives and works in Brooklyn. She studied with Lon Clark at the San Francisco Studio School and in 2012 moved to New York City, a vortex where the seething metropolitan life and the artist's solitude converge. Her works have been shown internationally in museums and galleries, including Spartanburg Museum and Whatcom Museum in the United States, Museum of Abbaye de Léhon in France, Asian Culture Center in South Korea and Chinese European Art Center in China. Li is also the awardee of numerous funded artist's residencies, fellowships and grants including Dumfries House in Scotland; Drake Arts Centre in Kokkola, Finland; The Alfred & Trafford Klots International Program in Léhon, France; Kunstnarhuset Messen International A.I.R Program in Alvik; Jon Imber Painting Fellowship in Vermont Studio Center, and Queens Arts Fund New Works Grant.