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b. 1986, China

Li Gang Biography

Originally trained as a painter at Yunnan Dali Academy and at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts' School of Experimental Art, Li Gang works with an eclectic range of materials, techniques, and forms to create artworks that hover between painting and sculpture. Exploring a range of diverse ideas, the artist's key themes include time, human life, and conditions of the contemporary period.

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Many of Li Gang's works seek to unsettle our sense of the ordinary, creating unfamiliar impressions of familiar objects. The sculptural installation Fleeting Time (2008–2009), for example, consists of plastic bags containing pigments that the artist scraped off finished paintings. The original works are lost, with only the bagged pigments, a photograph of the original painting, and traces of paint left on the canvases to suggest what may have been. In the 'It' series (2010), with which he began to gain attention, Li Gang painted acrylic boards in a dark colour and then repeatedly stuck on pieces of transparent packing tape to make small, enigmatic, stone-like forms.

The materialistic drive of contemporary society features conspicuously in Li Gang's work. Pedestal (2011), for example, is a wooden plinth painted in white, over which the artist has rubbed banknotes to stain the surface red and blue. This references the relationship between art and money—money pays for the materials needed in art-making, while the status of an artwork is considered greater if it fetches a higher sum. In the 'End' series (2014), which was included in the group exhibition Inside China at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2014, Li Gang linked contemporary ecological issues to traditional technology by using waste from the exhaust pipes of cars to produce a set of traditional Chinese ink blocks.

Other recurring themes in Li Gang's practice include intersections and connections found in human life. In his solo exhibition, Lateral Edge, at Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing in 2013, the artist presented Beads (2012): a floor installation consisting of 397 wooden spheres carved from the joints of a dead tree. A growing tree is described in the press release as a metaphor for a human life, from a child's birth in a family to venturing out on their own in a different direction as an adult.

In 2016, Li Gang's eponymous solo exhibition at Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing presented further themes of identity and relationships. For the 'Dessert' series (2015), Li Gang mixed plaster with hair he had collected from migrant workers and placed the mixture on top of found pots and kettles. The two disparate materials became one in the finished installation, which resembled a group of buildings from a distance. Similarly, in the 'Gravity' series (2016), Li Gang constructed angular structures out of steel tubes and jade bracelets as a reference to the relationship between male and female migrant workers. Though different, steel and jade became a composite material in a work of art.

In 2019, Li Gang held a solo exhibition—entitled Vowel—at Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin, for which he has extended his practice to consider the production of sound. The 2018 series exhibited consists of seven sculptures, each made up of an iron structure mounted on the wall and holding an empty Chinese pot facing the viewer. The overall shape of the sculptures evokes loudspeakers, while the varied size and shapes of the pots recall a mouth trying to enunciate different vowels.

Li Gang lives and works in Beijing.

Ocula | 2019

Li Gang, Sun (2018) (detail). Oil on linen.  200 x 300 cm. Courtesy Galerie Urs Meile.

Li Gang Featured Artworks

View All (42)
Snowball by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangSnowball, 2008Oil on linen
60 x 50 cm
Galerie Urs Meile Enquire about this work
Sun by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangSun, 2018Oil on linen
200 x 300 cm
Galerie Urs Meile Enquire about this work
Fantastic by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangFantastic, 2018Oil on hand-made canvas
125 x 122 cm
Galerie Urs Meile Enquire about this work
Fountain by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangFountain, 2018Oil on hand made canvas
125 x 120 cm
Rolando Anselmi Enquire about this work
20170426 by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li Gang20170426, 2018Oil on handmade canvas
84 x 84 cm
Rolando Anselmi Enquire about this work
Desserts by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangDesserts, 2015Plaster, rebar, hair, discarded kettles and pots
Galerie Urs Meile Enquire about this work
Oil Painting by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangOil Painting, 2016Oil on hand-made canvas
145 x 145 cm
Galerie Urs Meile Enquire about this work
Rust by Li Gang contemporary artwork
Li GangRust, 2015Jade bracelets, rebar
178 x 57 x 10 cm
Galerie Urs Meile Enquire about this work

Li Gang Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (7)
Contemporary art exhibition, Li Gang, Nude Colour at Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing
Open Now
13 June–9 August 2020 Li Gang Nude Colour Galerie Urs MeileBeijing
Contemporary art exhibition, Li Gang, Vowel at Rolando Anselmi, Berlin
Closed
12 October–12 December 2019 Li Gang Vowel Rolando AnselmiBerlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Li Gang, Complexion at Rolando Anselmi, Rome
Closed
23 June–30 September 2017 Li Gang Complexion Rolando AnselmiRome

Li Gang Represented By

Galerie Urs Meile contemporary art gallery in Beijing, China Galerie Urs Meile Beijing, Lucerne
Rolando Anselmi contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany Rolando Anselmi Berlin, Rome

Li Gang In Related Press

5 Exhibitions to see in Beijing in January 2017 Related Press 5 Exhibitions to see in Beijing in January 2017 5 January 2017, Art Radar Journal

Li Gang, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing (5 November 2016 – 19 February 2017) In this solo-show Li Gang shows six different bodies of works. Among them are his sculptures entitled  Desserts  (2015), made of plaster, discarded pots and pans, and hair of migrant workers. Plaster allows for flexibility of shape, whereas the hair stabilises the form...

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K11 Arts Foundation x Palais de Tokyo Present: ‘Inside China’ Related Press K11 Arts Foundation x Palais de Tokyo Present: ‘Inside China’ 7 March 2015, Hong Kong Tatler

The exhibit was unveiled last October at the Palais de Tokyo and has relocated to Hong Kong this year with two new participating artists, presenting six Chinese artists in dialogue with five French artists. The Chinese artists capture something ineffable which is deeply connected to the self and engaged with their immediate surroundings and...

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Inside China At Palais De Tokyo Related Press Inside China At Palais De Tokyo 1 December 2014, Catherine Shaw for South China Morning Post / 4 November 2014

A new exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris is challenging notions of Chinese contemporary art. Without a Mao-inspired or Cultural Revolution stylistic cliché in sight, the eclectic collection of works by five young "emerging" Chinese artists, presented alongside works by three French counterparts, in "Inside China"...

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Challenging Perceptions Of Modern Chinese Art Related Press Challenging Perceptions Of Modern Chinese Art 5 November 2014, The Randian / 4 November 2014

“Inside China” will be the first of a series of co-curated exhibition tours under a three-year strategic cooperation agreement between KAF and PALAIS DE TOKYO that covers extensive and comprehensive collaboration between the two major institutions in Chinese and French contemporary art to expand and strengthen the international platform...

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