This collection of Chinese landscape paintings profiles the work of prolific artist, Li Huayi--one of the most influential Chinese painters of the 20th century. Some view contemporary art and traditional art as alien entities facing each other across an unbridgeable divide. But what does it mean to be a contemporary artist ? Is it possible to be contemporary while working in a traditional manner? These questions as they relate to the contemporary scene in China are explored in this catalogue of a special exhibition featuring 34 large-scale paintings by Li Huayi, an artist born and raised in China, and currently residing in Shanghai and San Francisco. Many of the works in this exhibition could, on first view, be mistaken for traditional Chinese paintings such as those from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126). On closer inspection, however, the viewer discovers the technical invations and personal expression that the artist has brought to this tradition. For Li Huayi is expressly t an artist who is seeking to imitate or reproduce works from the past but rather one who uses tradition to create new works that speak to our time.
Michael Knight, Senior Curator of Chinese Art and Deputy Director for Strategic Programs and Partnerships at the Asian Art Museum, is author or co-author of many books, including Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty, Later Chinese Jades: Ming DynastyuEarly Twentieth Century, and The Monumental Landscapes of Li Huayi.