Lot 850
  • 850

Li Jin

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 HKD
2,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Li Jin
  • Garden
  • ink and colour on paper
painted in 2011
signed, inscribed and marked with two seals of the artist


Acquired directly from the artist

Catalogue Note

This long handscroll completed in 2011 epitomizes Li Jin’s painting style with the incorporation of the renowned figure painter's most iconic motifs and signature themes. The illustration of seven consecutive scenes encompasses his travel experiences abroad; his nostalgia for China’s past; and his memories of the enjoyable moments spent with friends and loved ones. Depicted repeatedly in different costumes, the Falstaffian figure modelled on Li Jin himself becomes not only the visual clue that unifies the narrative, but also the symbol of his idealized and sometimes distorted memories of the past.1     

The painting starts with a scene depicting two seated men with bulging eyes staring at the nipples of a naked girl, whose indifferent expression conveys a sense of detachment and emptiness. Departing from this dramatic opening, the next five scenes present the viewer with a grand opera that combines stereotypical elements representative of China’s revolutionary past;  from the  Mao suit typical of the 1960s  and 70s to the well-known Red Women’s Army in their greyish-blue uniforms and red armbands; from pilot hat with goggles seen in Yugoslav movies that prevailed in China in the 1970s to the sap green uniform of the first generation of the People’s Liberation Army; from the Red Guard’s red-tasselled spear and red scarf during the Cultural Revolution to the yellow uniform of the Japanese army during the Anti-Japanese War. For Li Jin’s generation born in the late 1950s, these classic ‘red themes’ formed a crucial part of their childhood memories, now vividly recalled later in their life. Foreign-looking figures in exotic clothes and a group of people enjoying a lavish feast are interwoven in between, which originate from Li’s travels abroad, and his memorable moments spent among friends. The scroll concludes with Li Jin sitting in a bath tub accompanied by a voluptuous girl, observing the dramatic opera in a contemplative state, while enjoying fresh fish and wine, as if trying to observe his true self among the scattered memories of the past.

Born in 1958 in Tianjin, Li Jin graduated from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts and is currently the Deputy Professor of the traditional Chinese painting department. Building on the foundations of his solid training in traditional techniques, in the 1990s Li gradually developed his distinctive playful style and became a representative of the New Literati group. In pursuit of  originality, Li Jin celebrates the simple pleasures of contemporary life with his delicate brush and lush colours Indeed, as he once remarked: “Whatever changes the society encounters, I will always use the traditional medium to record my daily life, as for me, this is the true joie de vivre!”2

Yi Ying, “Writings on Li Jin”, Poetry Calligraphy Painting, Issue No. 3, November 2011, Beijing.

2 Li Jin, “Jiachang zhuyi”, ibid., Issue No.2, May 2011, Beijing.