Born 1979 in Chaozhou, China, Li Wenfeng (李文峰) graduated from the Print Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. Discontent with flat expression, Li Wenfeng’s works feature grand and dramatic story-telling scenes, which borrow a cartoon aesthetic to create unusual symbolic expressions of the vast and material world. In his imaginative world, Li Wenfeng freely arranges the elements of his compositions as if they were chess pieces. Narration and dramatic scenes are characteristic of his work, which often contain a large number of fashionable or classical stories and roles.
For example, Noah’s Ark is depicted in one painting, while another is focused on a white setting table, both of which incorporate a number of people and symbols. In Li Wenfeng’s imagination, settings such as the boat and table are stages – material alternatives that symbolize the huge but empty material world. All the elements in his compositions (such as animals, images from masterworks, and characters reflecting aesthetics of cartoons) are personal criticisms of the material world.
Li Wenfeng displays a brazen nonconformity in his scenes that favor a sense of the irrational. Through the combination of familiar things and interesting treasures on his canvases, he shapes a commentary on society and human nature. His works often feature animals, oftentimes dismembered to highlight mankind’s cruelty in its endless remaking of nature and technological advances without regard to the environmental or ethical problems, such as the moral issues at play with the development of genetic engineering. He arranges this cruelty in front of blue skies with white clouds, using exaggerated cute modeling and colors in animamix aesthetics to confront the violence he sees, shaping a deep tension in his paintings. In this way he aims to remove the violent language system of the material world, using his position as an artist to confront and condemn the empty ridiculousness that he sees in society.
Li Wenfeng attaches great importance to the narrative power and readability of his paintings, offering a uniquely personal expressionin his eagerness to realize a utopian dream from the bitterness of reality. Often containing a sense of tragedy and poetic turmoil, Li Wenfeng chooses to use black humor to create tension in his absurd little plays, highlighting his criticisms of contemporary society and its haughty pride. To Li Wenfeng, while animals are violent, human beings are moreso.