Between Heaven and Earth 天地遊: Paintings by Benny SY Li 李純恩畫展
Benny Li is a well-known figure in Hong Kong, a former chief editor of Ming Pao Newspaper and editor of the Sing Pao Newspaper Supplement, he has hosted various TV shows, appeared in several movies, written many books and screen plays. Benny is also a keen photography and has held several solo and joint photography exhibitions. Since 2015, however, he has been dedicating more and more of his time to painting, after a highly successful first exhibition in 2017 of his ink and colour works at Yan Gallery, he has subsequently showed his works at Fine Art Asia this year and continues to paint with much enthusiasm and vigour.
This exhibition consists of 13 of his latest works, all painted in his distinctive free and flowing style. Li has independently studied the works of all the great Chinese masters such as Badashanren, Shi Tao, Qi Baishi, Zhang Daqian, Li Keran and Wu Guanzhong, as well as some European masters, such as Van Gogh and Dali. He has absorbed many influences and painting techniques and incorporates them into his own works. 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. His bold use of colour - yellow, blue, emerald green and crimson are part of his distinctive style. An avid traveler and photographer, Li has been to all the continents of the world, thus we see the steep craggy mountains of China, depicted using a splashed ink technique very reminiscent of Wu Guanzhong’s works, alongside the unusual landscape of Iceland, with its ice flows and green meadows. A sleepy village in Japan lies blanketed under a layer of deep snow and the dramatic vertical cliffs of the Grand Canyon are depicted in vivid hues of purple and orange. He often uses a photographer’s viewpoint, as well as highlighting the contrast between light and shade, similar to Li Keran’s artistic approach.
Not only are his works colourful and delightful to look at, but traditional ‘shan shui’ paintings are given a contemporary twist with a brightly coloured robed sage flying through the scenery. His works are often humourous with an editor’s touch of irony, but they also capture a childlike sense of wonder and awe at the sheer joyfulness of life.