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Seeking and Creating Beauty

Seeking and Creating Beauty

Li Man – a Female Painter Trained in the Army, Going From Hefei, Anhui Province to the World
By Wang Qi


  Li Man is born in Hefei, Anhui Province, a place propitious for giving birth to people of greatness, and thus, she is an intelligent woman with an immense interest in art even when she was just a young girl.  She has wide interests in painting, sculpturing, as well as singing and dancing, which give her artistic creation a very distinctive style without rigidly adhering to inflexible college dogma.  Mrs. Li loves life deeply, draws inspirations from nature, and achieves mastery in her heart.  This in turn helps to form her principles in creation, which is “observation must be the basic tone of poem, mental planning must be the affection of poem, and expression must be the embodiment of poem.”
  Mrs. Li is a versatile painter whose works have, for many times, participated in exhibitions both home and abroad, and won prizes.  Likewise, she has been specially featured numerous times by various newspapers and magazines across national borders.  After enjoying Mrs. Li’s recent works, I am delightfully surprised to discover that by using natural stone color, she has skillfully combined the western painting skills with the Chinese traditional fine brushwork skills on Chinese raw paper to express her paintings incisively and vividly.  The two paintings of tropical orchid – The Source of Life, and The Flower of Life, are the latest representative works of Mrs. Li.  She ingeniously symbolizes the mythological Adam and Eve by the use of the orchid flower.  Also, she draws from the most beautiful things in nature to express the old and new styles and feelings through the use of language and methods of painting.  I wonder how she attained such a mature attitude at such a young age?  With the broadening of her views, there are more ponderings and pursuit of modern spirits shown in her works.  As a matter of fact, those works have gone far beyond the scope of Chinese paintings.  In her perspectives, the traditional Chinese painting methods can no longer meet all of her requirements.  Her paintings, with a modern form, expressed in both Western and Eastern artistic ways are actually the results of the collision and blending of the two cultures.  Overall, Mrs. Li is a sensible and practical painter who is immersed in the process of painting itself.  By painting all of the true, the good, and the beauty of nature and human beings on the pictures, she creates a brand new painting language with Chinese characteristics.
  Mrs. Li’s works innovate the basic forms of Chinese painting without losing its characteristics.  Through absorbing the essence of Western painting and using its light and color skills, she successfully establishes her own painting styles and values.  In her flower painting, she adds color to ink and surface to lines, blends water with powder and opaque with transparency, and thus having a clear feature of Western composition and color.  However, her drawings have not lost the spirit of Chinese paintings.  In composition, she uses the ancient pattern, and the composition and modeling skills used in the folk paper cutting.  As for the painting materials and picture effects, she absorbs the writing character by Chinese brush used in literati pictures and the seeping nature of Chinese papers.  In color, she uses the natural mineral pigments of good quality like gold, silver, and lapidary powder, which make the Chinese paintings more magnificent and lofty.  Li Man uses both the light stroke skill seen in Chinese fine brushwork and the thick stroke skill used in Western painting to create a new effect that is different from both the Western and the Chinese paintings.  Mrs. Li’s works show her twofold identities – soldier and painter.  Not only does she pay attention to the realist things, she also notices the innovation of patterns, and blends them together in an effort to build her world in her deep mind.  These efforts give us a far-reaching enlightenment, and create the precious art treasure with both the Chinese and Western characteristics.
  Li Man is a warmhearted and frank female painter who has experienced her share of frustrations.  Although she is fruitful in painting, she is modest and eager to learn, which leaves a deep impression on others.  As a soldier, she can bear unusual hardship.  She takes sketches everywhere, and works so hard that she often forgets food and sleep.  Li Man makes bold experiment and innovation in ideas, topics, forms, colors, and skills in paintings.
  Today, Li Man is a member of the Chinese Painting Academy in Houston, Texas of the United States, a permanent member of Chinese Painting Association of the U.S.  She has successfully held personal painting exhibitions in the U.S., Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Hong Kong regions.  Her works have been widely collected by collectors and museums, which can be crowned with success.  However, we can still see the unremitting, seeking, and striving spirit in her works.  Let us wish this female painter, who is trained in the Army, further successes, and hope that she will present more magnificent works of art to everyone.


(Translated by Zhao Daihong and Shen Peng)