Using each artistic masterpiece as an opportunity to portray and share her painful, personal, and artistic journey, Li Shuang is one of the most significant female contemporary painters in modern China.
Challenging early years
Born in Beijing to a family of intellectuals in 1957, she was heavily influenced by her grandfather who was an antique, books, and artworks trader who traveled to Asiana and Western countries. His stories enriched her interest in art during Shuang’s early years. But growing up during the Cultural Revolution was not easy. Shuang’s father was charged, imprisoned, and interrogated by the local academy for three months because of the foreign literature and artwork found in their home.
Nevertheless, Shuang chose to dedicate her time studying and practicing drawing. She dreamed of attending professional art school. But due to her family’s misfortunes, she had to attend the Chine National Youth Theater as a stage designer. Even then, she became well known for her contributions to the academy.
The main subjects in her art are typically female figures. They are usually painted with nature elements in the background, most especially flower petals, vases, or bamboo shoots, lending serenity and warmth. She even ventured into paintings of streets, houses, and mountains. Later, she shifted to painting furniture, animals, and plants.
With the majority of her artworks displaying rich and vibrant colors, they give viewers a sense of the modern feel of Chinese paintings, compared to that of ancient styles. Most of her paintings have a center color that complements the other colors to better convey her different moods and thoughts.
Shuang is a firm believer in Chinese art as a spiritual movement, stating that Chinese paintings come from the artist’s heart. Although her paintings don’t express a sense of anger or political involvement, they portray calm and serene yet strong themes. She has also been described as the most intellectual female artist in the era of post-Cultural Revolution in China by The New York Times.
Interested in getting to know more female Chinese painters? Check out our article on Pan Yuliang, the post-impressionist female painter.