In Gift, Li’s expressionistic painting utilises the devices of photography to allude to the deceptive qualities of images. Picturing Chinese fighters parading a shot down enemy airplane during the second Sino-Japanese war, Li renders the scene as a purely aesthetic experience, supplanting historical connotation with his own legacy of artistic production. Mirroring the original documentary photo, Li’s black and white palette concentrates attention on the formal techniques of the painting; the scene becomes secondary to Li’s seductive brushwork, as ’fact’ becomes disembodied into a malleable network of fluid, loose gestures. The right side of the image has been slightly enlarged to force a comparative study of the image, underscoring the subjectivity of represented ’truth’.

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