Memoirs from Childhood - Solo Exhibition by Jia Juan Li

JIA Juan Li
18 Oct - 28 Oct 2013
Hong Kong

Opening Reception: October 17, 2013 Thursday, 6:30 – 8:30pm


Highly acclaimed Chinese contemporary female artist Jia Juan Li is opening her 10th solo exhibition in Hong Kong in Connoisseur Art Gallery.

Born in Hangzhou, China in 1960, she received her BFA from the renowned Sichuan Academy of Fine Art and her MFA with first class honour from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts. Upon her completion of her studies in China, she was invited by the French government to study at the Ecole d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence on a full two-year scholarship from 1996. Since then, she has lived in France for over 16 years and continue her artist career in Paris. In 2004, she has been awarded as the Prix de l’Auteur dans les Arts Graphiques et Plastique in Monte Carlo and in 2008, she was invited to show her works at the Grand Palais in Paris; a great honour for artists. In 2011, Jia had an important solo retrospective exhibition at Today Art Museum in Beijing, and last year, she had a major exhibition at the Guiyang Art Museum. In December 2012, Jia was awarded the gold prize for figurative painting in the annual “Exhibition of Société Nationale des Beaux Arts”, which took place in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Jia is one of a few remarkable Chinese female artists whose name is known in the international art scene.

In Jia Juan Li’s new solo exhibition, Connoisseur Art Gallery will showcase the artist’s latest oil paintings. Her paintings are inspired by court life in the Forbidden City in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty. The splendor and mysterious ambience of the palace had captivated her so much that she transferred her impressions of imperial life onto her paintings. She described this as “the nostalgia for something forever gone, a sentiment you could describe as melancholic, and elegant era that is achingly beautiful but now lost”.

Apart from the elegant portraits of Qing princesses in beautifully embroidered traditional robes and headdresses, Jia captures the splendid details of palace interiors and Chinese architecture; often with a muted or earthy palette for the background that brings about the nostalgic atmosphere. The compositions draw her audience into an intimate world where princesses spend tranquil moments in their boudoirs or along a winding corridor.

Very rarely seen are paintings of children in the palace, and in this exhibition, we can expect three 1 meter by 1 meter works of children in endearing compositions, looking into a water vessel of lotus flowers, catching butterflies and playing in a courtyard. In each of these paintings, Jia has captured an innocent moment of the children, creating charming and mesmerizing imageries. The details of flowers and trees in each piece also reflect the artist’s love for nature.

Also unusual in Jia’s oeuvre, are two seemingly matching portraits, not of the Qing dynasty era but reminiscent of the period of Old Shanghai, when the Chinese city was exposed to and influenced by the Western culture. In one, two ladies in a more modern dressing are putting on make-up in their private boudoir; the background is whimsical and the furniture of an art deco style. In the other, two nude ladies are taking their time to dress in the privacy of their room. In both pieces, floral folding screens, often seen in Jia’s palace interiors, also adorn the backgrounds.

Finally, there is Jia’s garden series, where ethereal fairies float around lotus or rose gardens. In recent years Jia’s gardens have become more colourful with details of lotus seed cups, multi-coloured flowers and white cranes against a blue or turquoise background. In this exhibition, Jia uses broad, abstract brushstrokes to paint the background in various colour tones, from soft creamy blue to pink and yellow with the orange moon glowing softly and even black and white tones reminiscent of traditional ink paintings. The backgrounds appear to merge water, sky, and clouds within the gardens, creating a unique dreamlike atmosphere that is truly fascinating.

Connoisseur Arty Gallery invites you to stroll in the dreamlike world of Jia Juan Li whose art represents the harmonious fusion of Chinese culture and Western oil painting technique, and captures the life of once upon a time in China, in a most memorable way.