Themes of intimacy, remoteness, and anxiety run throughout Li’s work. His scenes gain a haunting uncanniness not from their place in social memory, but because of their intensely concentrated surfaces. Treating his loaded source material as a void template, Li approaches painting as a purely amoral intervention, a meditative engagement with the possibilities of personal significance within an increasingly virtual world. Li’s diptych This Is How We Talk Politics blurs this distinction between public and private. Its sumptuously textured panels paradoxically convey the speed, pixellation, and distortion of mass media as fixed and tangible matter. Thick impasto fields in greyscale loom like a concrete facade, gauged and pockmarked, stippled and annotated through Li’s obsessive gestures, creating an almost spiritual contemplation of beauty from the intrinsically impersonal and generic.

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