Local artist Wei Li’s art lives in two distinct worlds
Art can often work as a big Rorschach test for an audience. Edmonton-based painter Wei Li is a professional abstract artist and her work abides to that statement.
Li’s work has previously been featured at SNAP, Latitude 53, Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. Now, her solo exhibition, Curious Things, has a place at Harcourt House.
“I work with hybridity, the idea of like bringing all kinds of stuff together including colour,” says Li. “I think in painting you can include as much colour as you like, so my idea is like bringing a hybrid experiment into my work. I think that’s why my work is all super colourful.”
Li’s art is deeply expressive. While abstract, there are some figurative elements in each piece. Wild splashes of bright yellows and deep reds pull together compositions that almost look organic. Layer after layer of intricately placed paint creates an exaggerated figure.
Much of Li’s work deals with hybridity, attempting to combine different internal and external experiences into a single piece of work. They have titles like “She is hugging snails” and “Obsessiveness and excitement, never growing out of them.”
Often the final product is chaotic and complicated.
“I think [it’s] the experience of being [an] immigrant, so I think I brought different experiences to the things happening around myself,” says Li. “I think I’ll have a different point to understand things happening. Probably yeah, because I’m coming from the east, so the idea and also learning the western idea. So this always give[s] me a different understanding of things. So trying to bring a different experience to my work.”
As Li’s experiences have changed, so too has her work. It wasn’t always kaleidoscopic colours and rhythmically ambiguous shapes. Li says she had a different style before coming to Canada.
“It was totally different. I would say it [was] more representational stuff. Definitely more traditional, academic. I [was] doing like landscape painting, but since I went to U of A, and going to really look at my art, I think I really changed a lot. I[’m] more interested in abstract painting.”
While intricate and tumultuous, at its core Li’s work is really quite simple. It’s about reflecting on personal experiences and communicating them in a way that’s more elegant and nuanced than language sometimes allows.
“I think I probably will want them [to] understand the experience of being [an] immigrant.” Says Li. “Maybe be open to different things. The experience, including respecting yourself and understanding others. I think it’s about communication hitting an experience.”
Thu., Aug. 10 – Fri., Sept. 22
Wei Li: Curious Things
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre