“Maybe it is the psychological pain that contemporary people suffer that creates our sense of purposeless and our hedonistic self-indulgence.”
b.1962, Anhui. Lives and works in Beijing
Li Shuguang worked for some years as an editor of women’s magazines, and he finds in street fashion’s mix-and-match approach a fertile source of ideas. With their clashing colours, cultural symbols and clothing, his paintings exude a kooky, playful energy. Pandas and kangaroos ride on the skeleton of a dinosaur-dragon, and girls in Beijing Opera makeup and camouflage uniforms do handstands as fighter jets zoom past. But the bizarre combinations also convey a sense of melancholy. “People from the East are more sensitive than Westerners to atmosphere and the supernatural,” he explains. Nightfall in particular “always makes me sad, thinking about the past. This sadness calms me and uplifts my soul.” In Chinese Babe (2005), a barefoot girl in a classical coif and a leopard-print wrap stands alone against a pitch-dark sky as electrified spermatozoa dart around her. Elements from the animal world “help me to consider the absurdity of human life from a nonhuman perspective,” the artist says.