There are some things that I’m not the greatest at – one of which is my knowledge of the Chinese art world. It seems that everyone talks about Ai Weiwei and maybe Zhang Huan – but for the most part- at least for me, I see a lot of those artists as master of the spectacle (with amazing technical chops) but at the end of the day a lot of these artists tend to leave me cold.
Li Songsong’s show at pace right now is a display of painting unlike you’ve seen in a very long time.
Like any good painter the description of what he does is easy – it’s in the details of how that make these stand out. In a nutshell Songsong paints multicolored grids of paint on canvas and aluminum, which integrate photographs of recent Chinese history and current events into abstraction. When I talk about paint – I am talking about a physicality that is unlike many other painters. Maybe the closet painter I can compare his physicality to is maybe – Guy Goodwin’s painting of the mid seventies. Realize that I’m trying to set up the paint of these paintings as a major force of the work – easily in places the paint is at least 1 ½ inches thick in places. However it’s neither clumsy nor overly gentle. It is applied in a direct and intelligent approach.
Songsong’s images are taken from Chinese genre scenes or elements from recent news events – and while this adds an element if interest to the images, I feel that at the end of the day the imagery is barely necessary. As the viewers experience of the work will bring a more personal association and meaning to the artworks.
Highly recommended, Li Songsong will run through Aug 5.
Detail of Songsong’s paintwork.