Benny SY Li 李純恩 Hong Kong, b. 1956


 Former managing editor of Hong Kong Ming Pao (newspaper-features), Sing Pao (newspaper-features). Benny has published more than 50 novels, corpuses and photography albums. He is also host of various TV shows and a screenwriter. He has appeared in several movies as well as held held different solo or joint photography exhibitions.


Widely known as a Hong Kong writer and photographer, Benny Li is also a self-taught artist. His paintings are deeply influenced by the works of modern Chinese masters such as Badashanren, Shi Tao, Qi Baishi, Zhang Daqian, Li Keran, and Wu Guanzhong. Renowned for his vivid imagination and unconventional approach to colour and composition, Benny Li also seeks inspiration from European artists to develop his distinctive and free flowing style. The artist’s oeuvre serves as a pure reflection of his love for travelling, sense of humour, and interpretations of his dreams.





Benny Li Paints


純恩老弟是所見最爲勤奮的畫家,工餘作畫,通宵達旦 。老話說:將勤補拙。純恩不拙,聰明絕頂。他所補的是幾十年來沒有用於作畫上的時間。

Benny is the most diligent painter that I have ever met. He paints in his spare time, sometimes painting through the night. As an old saying goes, “What he lacks in talent, he makes up for in diligence”. It is not talent that Benny lacks, but time misspent not painting over the past decades. 


As a matter of fact, Benny was fond of drawing as a young boy and received rigorous training in traditional painting. He brings, calligraphy, literature and art together in his works. You can see from this that he is a man of considerable culture and has a good grasp of Chinese painting skills. 


Benny has now seen a lot of the world. He has absorbed much from other master painters and has developed a style of his own. He enjoys travelling the globe, therefore most of his paintings are depictions of landscapes; mountains, rivers, trees and many other natural sceneries. In his paintings you find splashes, lines and composition, reminiscent of Wu Guanzhong, or energetic brush strokes similar to He Haixia’s. Sometimes he follows the multi-vanishing point perspective of the ancient Chinese scholars, and sometimes he uses a modern linear perspective. His works are full of detail and filled with imagination. Not to mention the bold colours he favours - yellow, blue, emerald green and crimson. They are part of his distinctive style. 


Benny is a columnist and also a photographer. He applies a photographer’s viewpoint as well as the contrast of light and shade in his paintings, making them different from traditional Chinese paintings. The contrast between light and shade also reminds me of Li Keran’s artistic style.


Benny has held several solo exhibitions. He is in his prime and has a fertile, creative mind. He paints what has never been painted before. There are no rules, nor limits to his art. His unrestrained and vigorous style brims with talent.


Benny has an eclectic mind. He is well known in Hong Kong. It seems like there is nothing he cannot do. We are lucky that he has started painting. Because it is such a delight to behold his works.




Fong Yuk Yan

Autumn, 2018