PLAY OF LIGHT landscape and interior paintings by JAY LI
November 7 – December 31, 2017
“The western art of painting is an art of visual space.”
Jay Li is admired by artists and collectors in the Ottawa region for his representational oil painting techniques as well as his clarity of vision.
This selection of work includes his rarely-seen landscapes and industrial interiors distinguished by their qualities of natural light, subtle shadows and sure brushwork.
As a teenager, Li was selected to study traditional art forms in his home province of Canton, China. Wanting to learn about western art techniques, he then spent 9 years living in Greece and travelling to visit the great art museums of Western Europe. He says that throughout his career he has focused on the, “continuous exploration into integrating artistic expression and approaches from both Chinese and European traditions.”
This has manifested itself in many genres of painting including still life, portraiture, landscape, nudes, architectural interiors and forays into abstraction. He often paints from life but is astonishingly adept at painting from memory.
In recent years, Li has been drawn more and more to representing landscape. Rural areas of the Ottawa region have emerged as his perennial favourites, especially at the height of autumn colour. His winter paintings, which feature the subtle exploration of grey tones, take direct inspiration from the ‘mood landscape’ school of mid-19th and early 20th century Russia and Poland.
Li moved with his family to Canada in 1998. He currently has a light-filled painting studio in a former mill in Carleton Place, Ontario.
The retrospective catalogue Jay Zhijian Li Fine Art is available for purchase here in the gallery.
18 x 24″ oil on canvas:
16 x 20″ oil on canvas:
Artist’s Statement: Finding my standing point between Realistic and Abstract Painting
Study in China
My passion for painting started in childhood. I was enrolled in the Middle School affiliated to the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1978. I spent the following seven years in that academy, where I was influenced by the ideas of the respected scholar Zhaomin Wang. He believed that “form is everything”, and in his painting attempted to introduce the spirit of oriental literate painting onto the foundation of the art of Paul Cezanne
When I studied in the Academy, I got to know some descendants of the masters of oil painting in China. Their perspectives on western art had a profound influence on me: they emphasized that to learn the art of western painting, one must see the original works. Thanks to an opportunity in 1990, I got the chance to study in Greece. When I stood before the splendid and exquisite sculptures of ancient Greece, I felt the joy and worship of “the human being” in their culture, the source of European civilization. At the same time, I started paying attention to the abstract expressionism movement in the United States.
Working in Canada
I moved to Canada since 1998. In Canada’s modern multicultural society, without the burden of ancient history, I feel more free to pursue my art. I have started some experimental semi-abstract painting but also practise sketching in the studio provided by the City of Ottawa. One of my purposes in painting is to explore the geography and interplay of space and form on a two dimensional canvas. Space should be part of form, forms grow out of space; they should not be clearly identifiable and separate entities.
- Jay Li, 2015