44.5 x 60.0 cm
Li Xiongcai is identified with the Lingnan School of painting, like Guan Shanyue and the School’s founder Gao Jianfu. In the 1930’s Li studied in Japan at the Tokyo Arts College. Upon his return to China in 1935 Li taught at the Guangzhou Arts School, the Guangzhou Arts College and the National Arts College at Chongqing.
During the Sino-Japanese War Li travelled throughout southwest and northwest China absorbing the beauty of nature, the rich emotive qualities of mountains and rivers. It was not, therefore, surprising that landscapes were his favoured subject. Li gained complete proficiency in the established traditions of Chinese painting and with that basis developed his own dramatic and consummate style of landscape painting, characterised by the use of dark tones and a dry brush.
In the accumulation of his work Li laid particular emphasis on study of the great Song and Yuan masters of landscape painting. The spirit of those great masters of the past, Guo Xi, Fan Kuan, Jin Hao and the ‘Four Masters of the Yuan dynasty’ were echoed in Li’s landscapes. It was the learning and experience gained from the study of these masters that enabled Li to evolve a distinctive, dramatic and contemporary style of landscape painting today.
In keeping with the traditions of the Lingnan School, Li ventured into the mountains, the gorges of the Yangzi and the steppelands and deserts of the north and northwest to gain first-hand experience of the natural world. The strongly emotive qualities of his work reflect these travels and experiences. After the establishment of New China Li found a new inspiration in the reconstruction processes and we often see in his work evidence of industrial and agricultural progress.
Excerpt from ‘Two Chinese Modern Masters’, AGNSW, 1985, pg.2.
Exhibition catalogue; Two Chinese Modern Masters; 1985 , 3 (colour illus.).
Chinese Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 27 Nov 1991–27 Jan 1992.