Li painted Cuban Sugar in 2006 at a time when China underwent a crisis in domestic sugar production, forcing it to engage in trade with Cuba to cut inflation. Li’s visualisation of this event is fractured, reflecting this ideological conflict of interest with an image that is not self-sustaining, but rather uncomfortably made up of a composite of independent sections. Executing his scene as a montage, each defined area operates as a painting within a painting, suggesting a layered and disjointed approach to historical interpretation, further complicated by Li’s intensely formal approach to his subject. Li offers no political opinion within his work, but focuses solely on the act of painting to open new relationships between individual perception and the authoritative narratives of documentation.

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