LIFANG: Between Beaches / Entre les Plages

31 Mars - 4 Mai 2023

6PM - 9PM

Galerie Boulakia presents solo show of fifteen oil paintings by LiFang, an artist shown for the first time in London. 


Born in China, LiFang discovered her passion for painting at fifteen years old. After seven years of studies at the Nanjing Academy of Fine Arts, she taught drawing and painting at university before arriving in France in 2001 to further her artistic development. Having completed a degree in Fine Arts at the Paris Panthéon Sorbonne University 1, LiFang began searching for a new pictorial language to make contemporary reality her own. Since 2005, her work has been shown in galleries, institutions, and international art fairs in France, Germany, Switzerland, New York, and Asia, and has been the subject of over twenty solo exhibitions. Her works are also part of public collections such as that of the Musée Cernuschi in Paris and the Colas Foundation. 


Painting 2.0 that captures the Zeitgest: LiFang’s multicultural painting speaks at the crossroads of many different influences. “Her artistic references are drawn from modern Western painting. She remains committed to classical elements of our pictorial traditions such as figurative painting with an emphasis on depiction of the body, while also transcribing light’s impact on her subject matter. Through wide brushstrokes that are juxtaposed and modelled in response to lighting, LiFang renders the volume of the bodies that she depicts in her work. This style allows her to incorporate her paintings into an immediate relationship with the contemporary world. Blurry and fragmented effects serve as the pictorial equivalents of pixelation in digital photography that is blown up until it loses its sharpness. Her work bears witness to the loss of individual identities when found within crowds hustling through the main thoroughfares of cities, relaxing on beaches, or piling on top of each other in boats. In LiFang’s work, human bodies are nothing more than moving objects or beings that are just as interchangeable as they are impenetrable.


How beautiful it is to be alive! Drawing upon her photos of seaside vacations, LiFang immortalises such moments of fleeting beauty on canvas. The peaceful figures depicted savour an instant of eternity, exuding a sense of lightness and sensual well-being. Showing feelings common to all living things, such as the joy of bodies at rest, they are at once connected to nature and in harmony with their surroundings. It’s a mistake to believe that happy people don’t have stories. On the contrary! The essence of life is to be found in the moments of pleasure that life gives us. We must not wait to seize the moment!


We now shift our attention from the sand to the horizon above the sea. The water is being crossed by people coming from another world, leaving a distant beach to perhaps land upon our shores. “The more I paint happy people who have the chance to enjoy the beauty of nature, the more I am drawn to the Other, he who must cross the sea out of necessity. And I say to myself that it is urgent to give him an image,” says LiFang. Her Crossings series was thus born in 2019.


From one Beach to another, Crossings beyond horizons:  We cannot write a hymn to life without mentioning its dark side. There is no light without shadow, no life without death. Those caught between two beaches are the most vulnerable in face of death, while simultaneously the most attached to life; they are the dwellers of LiFang’s Crossings. These people floating towards a better future have death in their sight at any moment. Caught between day and light, between storm and sunlight, they are seeking a haven. Tossed back and forth by existence, lit up by shining lifejackets of which colour symbolises hope, they represent each and every one of us — “We are all in the same boat,” says the artist.


A universal work, a bright witness to the human condition: Through her subject matter, LiFang opens our eyes to our own humanity. Her work is timeless and changing, light and deep, joyful, and dramatic. Her work is open, giving the viewer the freedom to see one’s own imagination all while allowing us to feel a sense of belonging to the community of all living things. We thus see ourselves in a oneness where everyone has a place, in a world of beauty built upon a harmony of opposites.