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Almine Rech-Picasso Goes Global Ocula Conversation Almine Rech-Picasso Goes Global

French gallerist Almine Rech-Picasso opened her first space in Asia on Shanghai's historic Bund in July this year, bringing her eponymous gallery's total locations to five. The Shanghai gallery occupies roughly 4,000 square feet on the second floor of the three-storey Amber Building, a beautiful warehouse space, originally occupied by the Central...

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From the Gallery to the Streets: Home Works 8 in Beirut Ocula Report From the Gallery to the Streets: Home Works 8 in Beirut 8 Nov 2019 : Nat Muller for Ocula

There's an inside joke amongst the team of Ashkal Alwan, The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts: that every time an edition of its biennial forum on cultural practices is planned, a national crisis happens. The eighth edition of Home Works was no different: it opened on 17 October amidst the most devastating wildfires that Lebanon had witnessed...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Li Ran

b. 1986, China

Li Ran is an artist known for his performances and pseudo-documentaries that investigate the institutions of art history and contemporary art. Employing mimicry, repetition and satire to blur the boundaries between reality and fiction, Li draws attention to dominant narratives that have been accepted as truth.

Li began exploring mimicry in the 2012 performance Mont Sainte-Victoire at Magician Space in Beijing. The name of the work derives from the mountain Paul Cézanne immortalised in his paintings, which Li took as an entry point into modernism. In the four-act performance, the artist read from an original script, switching between various personalities ranging from a middle-aged man to a left-wing youth, a rapist and a victim. On the surface, the performance seemed to be a personal investigation into art history; the dialogue consisted of the artist's own writing as well as borrowings from prominent essays such as Roland Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text and Michel Foucault's Madness and Civilisation. However, by consciously introducing fissures to the artwork—by quoting poorly translated selections of the texts or presenting the dialogue in illogical sequences—Li's act was in part a critique directed at Chinese artists, who in his view have accepted ideas imported from the West without critically scrutinising modernist concerns.

Since then, Li has adopted mimicry as a tool to challenge dominant narratives. His 2012 video Beyond Geography—created for the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale—imitates the narrative structure and style of the BBC Discovery travel series. In a quest to 'excavate the "exotic lands"', Li adopts the role of the nature show host, a character who is a cross between a fetishist and an anthropologist. The zealous explorer-adventurer navigates through the jungle—an 'expedition' that takes place in an empty film studio with a blue screen—and encounters an exotic tribe played by a group of young Chinese actors. In keeping with the original series, Li even narrates in the earnest manner of Discovery, in Chinese. By mimicking widely recognisable characters, Li engenders suspicion over the authenticity of popular media while exposing the construction of the exotic other.

Li also dissects the crafting of the 'other' in Retransformation of the Supporting Roles (2017), a two-channel video in which he positioned footage from 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Chinese films next to his recreations of them. During the period, antagonist characters were required to have a more Caucasian appearance than the heroes to reinforce the idea of the enemy of China as Western. Because of the lack of Caucasians living in China at the time, minorities from the Uyghur, Kazakh, Muslim and other communities were hired to play the villains. In his re-enactment, Li cast Chinese minorities of similar origin to reproduce scenes from films such as Surprise Attack (1960) and Death-Pay on the Coral Island (1980) as a way of suggesting that such propaganda mechanisms are still operative today; often, when internal political conflicts arise, mainstream Chinese media find a common enemy in foreigners to discourage the disagreements.

Since graduating from the Oil Painting Department at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2009, Li has exhibited extensively, including at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2017, 2013); CAFA Art Museum, Beijing (2012); and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2012). He has also participated in multiple international exhibitions, notably La Biennale de Montréal (2014); Biennale de l'Image en Mouvement, Geneva (2014); Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (2014), in which he received the Best Artist Award; Gwangju Biennale (2012); and the Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale (2012). In 2017 Li was nominated for the Future Generation Art Prize by PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv for his Retransformation of the Supporting Roles.

Li currently lives and works in Shanghai.

Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Ranger and His Friends by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanRanger and His Friends, 2019 Oil on canvas
90 x 120 cm
AIKE
Presona Swap by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanPresona Swap, 2017—2019 Synchronous dual-channel HD video, 2K, color, monochrome, sound 15’’30’
AIKE
Moonlit Night by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanMoonlit Night, 2019 Oil on canvas
120 x 90 cm
AIKE
Into the future 迈向未来 by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanInto the future 迈向未来, 2018 Oil on canvas
90 x 120 cm
AIKE
Continue to Write A Story In The Exhibition Hall 续写一则展厅中的故事 by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanContinue to Write A Story In The Exhibition Hall 续写一则展厅中的故事, 2014 Video Installation, Monitor, Bench, Projection, Microphone, Loudspeaker Box
ShanghART
Eva Wang and Peter Zhang by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanEva Wang and Peter Zhang, 2018 Oil on canvas
90 x 120 cm
AIKE
The Museum of Street Vendor and Miss by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanThe Museum of Street Vendor and Miss, 2017 Archival inkjet printed, Photo collage and digital drawing on paper
170 x 120 cm
AIKE
Sunrise 1978 by Li Ran contemporary artwork
Li RanSunrise 1978, 2017 Archival inkjet printed, Photo collage and digital drawing on paper
100 x 160 cm
AIKE

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Li Ran, Who Are You  你是谁 at AIKE, Shanghai
Open Now
6 November–29 December 2019 Li Ran Who Are You 你是谁 AIKE, Shanghai
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Summer Wind Flirts among Words 夏风惹来一堆字 at ShanghART, Shanghai
Closed
27 July–28 August 2019 Group Exhibition Summer Wind Flirts among Words 夏风惹来一堆字 ShanghART, Westbund, Shanghai
Contemporary art exhibition, Group exhibition, Side Lanes 辅路 at ShanghART, Shanghai
Closed
18 January–24 February 2019 Group exhibition Side Lanes 辅路 ShanghART, Westbund, Shanghai

Represented By

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Critic’s Guide: Beijing Related Press Critic’s Guide: Beijing Frieze : 14 November 2017

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Under the visionary art direction of acclaimed Munich-based Bureau Mirko Borsche, the magazine combines its defining curatorial and interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on the power of images and a keen attention to the update, as best epitomized by new cover tagline: Visual Culture Now.

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