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Alisan Fine Arts
Room 2305, Hing Wai Centre
7 Tin Wan Praya Road
Aberdeen, Hong Kong   map * 
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Beyond Babel
by Alisan Fine Arts
Location: Alisan Fine Arts
Artist(s): LI Dezhuang
Date: 20 Feb - 16 Mar 2016

To be officiated by Mr YEO George Yong-boon, Chairman of Kerry Logistics Network Limited. Artist will be present at the opening. A donation from the proceeds of the exhibition to VIVA China Children’s Cancer Foundation 

Born in Singapore in 1953, Li Dezhuang has worked and lived in Shanghai, China, for many years, this is Alisan Fine Arts first solo exhibition for this important artist. The exhibition conveys the artist’s exploration of the relationships between imagery and culture, and his attempts to demonstrate that art and specifically the symbols of a well, mountains, and fields are universal. The works on display are the culmination of 30 years of artistic practice, starting from the artist’s semi-abstract harbor scenes, to full abstraction. Several of the works feature the Chinese characters for well (井), mountain (山) and field (田), but rather than fulfill a mere lexical function, the artist teases out their aesthetic nature, pulling apart the lines that the characters are composed of. The character for well, is delineated through vertical and horizontal lines, but their flat rigid construction is bent, creating a circular shape. Similarly the characters for mountain and field are adjusted to create a triangular and rectangular shape. In doing so the artist not only allows the characters to become universally recognized geometric shapes, but points further to the idea that some things can transcend language and form. 

The title also suggests the merging of language and symbol, and a homogenous system of recognition. Beyond Babel is directly taken from the title of a book and an essay written by Pan Yaochang (Professor of History of Art, Fine Arts College of Shanghai University) on Li Dezhuang’s work, and also alludes to the story from Genesis 11:1-9. Included in this book are important artists such as Lin Fengmien, Pan Tianshou, Chao Chung-hsiang, Luo Zhongli. The story of Babel explains the Confusion of Tongues or the variation in human languages, and the competition between God and humans. When God found out that the explicit motive of the people was to create a tower that reached the heaven, and have a homogenous culture and language he confounded them, so they were unable to understand each other, and scattered them across the earth. Read in light of the Genesis as a whole, the creation of the tower is in fact a counter to God’s mandate in Genesis: that God created the world and wished to fill it with humans, by gathering together they were in violation of His mandate to populate. Therein, Beyond Babel, reifies not only the issue of homogeneity, but also whether a universal language can exist. 

Li Dezhuang graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Singapore in 1972, where he studied western painting. Having spent time abroad, and a notable polymath, Li Dezhuang’s experiences have undoubtedly also influenced his artistic direction and development. Early on, he became friends with Fong Chow, former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Selma Amdur Heringman, close friend of Pablo Picasso, and studied American Abstract Expressionism and traditional Chinese art theories. His extensive career has led him to reach further, and ponder how far he can take his art. Over the years, he won several awards in Singapore and the United States. His works have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions around the world, including in the United States, France, Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. His works have been collected by Lee Kuan Yew, Evergreen Marine Cooperation, Taipei; China Ocean Shipping Group, Beijing. Recently he participated in Art Paris at the Grand Palais in 2013 and had a solo exhibition at Xiamen University Art Museum in 2007. He was the Visiting Professor at Dalian Maritime University, China, and currently lives and works in Singapore and Shanghai. Alisan Fine Arts is pleased to present this solo exhibition highlighting a new chapter of the artist’s career, and the first exhibition celebrating our 35th Anniversary of promoting Contemporary Chinese Art. 

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