“Art enables me to express what my heart wants to express with the greatest amount of freedom.”
b.1968, Luoyang, Henan. Lives and works in Beijing
Using the finest of brushes, and without erasing or redrawing a single line, Li Jie depicts in meticulous detail piles of rubbish, from vegetables to bottle tops. (This video shows her at work.) Her rice-paper pictures hover between drawing and painting, calligraphy and draughtsmanship, documentary and abstract design. “I used to work in a factory,” Li Jie says. “In my heart, I rebelled against living life in an industrial and repetitive way.” Her approach is a deft union of opposites. She gives the detritus of contemporary life the character of living organisms, multiplying like bacterial growths yet with the structured beauty of anemones or coral. And by giving careful attention to each tiny screw and cigarette butt, she defies the Communist tendency to suppress the individual in favour of the mass.