Qianyu Li: Alchemy
This post is also available in: 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) English
Relocation: moving oneself, or moving things to another place. This is a key term that Qianyu Li has distilled for herself after living in Beijing, New York, and London. While people can easily imagine this kind of global migratory life nowadays, for those who have experienced it, it feels more like living in a divided and disparate world.
In this context, Li’s painting is about relocation. Her diptychs contain landscapes that are disjointed and independent of each other, from many different places, but the key is always the things that have the potential to transform each other.
In order to explore the connections between different regions in her paintings, the whole process usually goes like this: images are picked from anywhere in her life, and after eliminating the limitations of time, space, and culture, the maximum potential for the human and objects figures in their narrative forms is retained. Thus, arbitrary associations sparked by individual shapes will correspond to another world at a certain moment. In this way, the artist will be able to summon a stage in the painting space, disregarding the laws of reality.
For a painter, this is actually a considerable degree of freedom. In other words, this is actually a fairly alchemical thing.
Throughout the history of alchemy, the core thesis that countless alchemists have paid attention to, whether it is the initial method of making gold or later psychological theories, has been reduced to the possibility of transformation in contemporary times. But no matter what era, the so-called transformation requires a pair of eyes that carefully read the world, and faith.
In this regard, a conjecture is: why can Paulo Coelho’s story of a shepherd boy learning alchemy through travel spread all over the world in a world of divided lives? Perhaps because it tries to show that the fragments in life are omens. They can travel through different times and spaces. They are the starting point for reorganizing the world.