Artist Magazine (Taipei) • May 2004

Delicate Self-Contained Universe: Li-lan at Nabi Gallery
Tung-Hsiao Chou
Artist Magazine (Taipei, Taiwan)
May 2004

Li-lan employs enlarged international stamps, airmail envelopes and blank sides of postcards as her pictorial elements. Her paintings convey external correspondences with global culture as well as inner reflections of the self. Through intensely structured imagery, Li-lan’s work touches upon themes of communication and language; furthermore, it hints at deep personal meanings within a complex cross-cultural dialogue.

P-01-01WebBookSky Viewed – 2001

Li-lan’s art depicts a self-contained universe where the subtle intricacies interlink with individual expression and awareness. Her elaborately rendered images are often impressionistic, together with the rich textural nuances of the surfaces, achieved with surprisingly expressive brushwork, in particular the stamps and cancellation marks. She also introduces a different set of illusions by depicting architectural structures. The postmarks on her canvas from around the world suggest her personal messages on international relations.

P-00-04WebTwo Views Bridged – 2000

In some pieces, Li-lan has included an image of her eye fashioned into a repeating stamp motif. Not only does it function as the representation of her own unique vision as an artist, but also refers to how others perceive her. In Western culture, the eyes are typically used as a defining physical feature of Asian identity. The image of her eye, positioned in carefully arranged pictorial places and moments, can be regarded as a reflection of her self-awareness across cultural boundaries in a global context.

Court – 2003

In the new work of the recent two years, more colors and vivid images of human figures and animals can be found on the canvas. At the same time, Li-lan continues developing her interest in architectural structures. There are increasingly more images of traditional Chinese buildings. In “Court”, Li-lan enlarges a pattern of architecture found from a stamp into the whole canvas. In this three-dimensional perspective space, viewers seemingly enter into the landscape within the stamp, just like standing in front of the building. However, the postmark and the out-of-proportion bug remind us of the flatness of the building in the background. Li-lan’s paintings sometimes look like the world under a magnifying lens, a tiny insect landing on postcards.

P-03-05WebLottery – 2003

Li-lan’s paintings have been the results of a subtle process of distillation. Space, time, memory, and emotions are compressed and transformed into her airy, and light-filled compositions. The impeccable sensitivity in all her paintings engages the viewer to glimpse aspects of her inner-self through the signs she leaves there.

Li-lan was born in New York. She has exhibited extensively in the U.S.A. and internationally, especially in Taiwan and Japan. Her work is in major public and private collections all over the world, such as Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, The William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs, CT, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan, and The Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Kuraizawa, Japan. She now lives and works in New York and East Hampton.