Jason McCoy Gallery is pleased to present Reflections of Kaidan, featuring new oil paintings and pastels on paper by New York based artist Li-lan. Carter Ratcliff, author of the forthcoming monograph on Li-lan’s life and work, curates the exhibition.
In this body of work, Li-lan shifts her focus from imagery that relates to written and cross-cultural correspondence, such as letters, postcards, and stamps, to a place even more ethereal: Kaidan. Kaidan is a Japanese word that consists of two: Kai, meaning “strange, rare or bewitching apparition” and Dan, meaning “talk” or “recited narrative.” While in its broadest sense Kaidan refers to any ghost or horror story, it is especially associated with the Japanese folktales of the Edo period.
Though Li-lan takes inspiration from these tales, their impact on her work is more visual than bound to particular narratives. In fact, Li-lan prefers storylines that have neither a tangible beginning nor end. Here, otherworldly female ghosts have found their way into her compositions, floating in and out of simplified architectural structures and set against an array of exotic birds and rainbow-colored toads. Whereas Li-lan is know for works that manifest as poetic metaphors, Reflections of Kaidan takes this sentiment a step further. The world captured in these new works tells of fairy tales that open a space for free-flowing fantasies. We can project ourselves into these silent walls captured by Li-lan and loose ourselves in her spacious rooms that always seem to lead into the mysterious unknown.
Li-lan has exhibited extensively in the USA and internationally, especially in Taiwan and Japan. Her work is in major public and private collections all over the world, including the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC; the Parrish Museum in Southampton, NY; the William Benton Museum of Art in Storrs, CT; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Ohara Museum of Art in Kurashiki, Japan; and the Sezon Museum of Modern Art in Karuizawa, Japan. In 2008, the University of Washington Press published “Experiences of Passage: The Paintings of Yun Gee and Li-lan,” a book by the distinguished author Joyce Brodsky.