Sewing Machine, 8 x 8″ oil on canvas   $275   code 151-63


The western art of painting is an art of visual space.


Jay Li is admired by artists and collectors for his representational oil painting techniques and his clarity of vision.

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.

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.”

Study abroad

“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

Jay Li portrait