Kaikodo Journal XIII Autumn 1999
Summoning the Seasons: the Art of Li Xubai
Corresponding to the exhibition held between October 16 and November 3, 1999. 29 paintings by the Toronto-based artist Li Xubai (29 color plates with additional color details). Preface by Howard Rogers. 77 pages.
Includes the essays:
“Traditional Painting in a Postmodern World:
the Art of Li Xubai”
“Traveling Through Inner Operas”
Jay A. Levenson:
“Reflections on Progress in Chinese and
This journal, devoted to the work of the painter Li Xubai, originally from Fujian and now residing in Canada includes essays which it is hoped will be of benefit to readers of the catalogue and to those who seek varying paths by which to approach and understand the paintings of Li Xubai. First is an enlightening statement from the artist himself, who stresses the emotional content of his poetry and how that relates to his approach to painting.
The second essay, by Arnold Chang discusses the landscapes of Li Xubai within the larger context of 20th-century Chinese painting, suggesting the individual achievements of the one within the wider parameters of the other. Robert Kushner, a very well-known contemporary painter based in New York, writes from the standpoint of an informed and sensitive outsider, one who approaches contemporary Chinese painting on the basis of his own wide experience, technical training, and aesthetic concepts, and his insights are thus of interest to even seasoned students of the tradition.
Dr. Jay A. Levenson, an art-historian who is presently Director of the International Program at the Museum of Modern Art, takes note of recent doubts among Western critics about the continuing validity of the paradigm of progress as a way of analyzing the development of art in America and Europe and applies that query to the paintings of Li Xubai. His discussion clarifies the problem of extending to the cultural sphere the biological concept of evolution, which describes change from simple to complex organisms and from lower to higher spheres.
An essay by Howard Rogers focuses on critics themselves, on some of the tasks with which critics are normally charged and on the tools and approaches they have at their disposal. Howard’s preface to the exhibition is also an illuminating piece, addressing various aspects of Li Xubai as a poet and the relationship between the poet and the painter.