Li Chevalier

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Li Chevalier
Li Chevalier (2011)
Born (1961-03-30) March 30, 1961 (age 54)
Nationality French
Education Pg Dip. Fine Art - Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design London.

Li Chevalier (Chinese: 诗蓝; pinyin: Shī Lán; born March 30, 1961) is a Chinese-born artist who moved to France and became a French citizen in 1986. She is a member of the French National Fine Art Society (SNBA). She has been working at the crossroads of Europe and Asia for the past two decades . Her first retrospective exhibition was held in 2010 at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. Her works are part of the permanent collection of this institution.

Li Chevalier is mostly known for her "Euro-Asian" art language, born out of blending western media and elements of eastern traditional art. Her exhibitions are mostly distinguished by her own particular spatial composition and scenographic design.

Li Chevalier in her Beijing studio


By the time Li Chevalier moved to France in the mid 80’s, she had decided to study political science and philosophy before embarking on training in the visual arts, wishing to explore issues that had been left unresolved in her mind when she left her country of birth. Following undergraduate studies at the Institute of Political Science of Paris (1986–1990), she pursued a masters’ degree in political philosophy at the Sorbonne University and earned her M.A in Philosophy in 1990 (with the theme of her thesis being: Political Alienation). This important detour into the study of politics and philosophy seemed unavoidable given the dramatic effect the Cultural Revolution had on Chevalier and fellow members of her generation. Philosophy has now become the foundational theme in her artistic expression.

Chevalier received her initial training in classical painting at the Institute of Fine Art and Restoration in Florence, in the mid 1990s. Between 2001 and 2004 she attended master classes in the Art Academy Moulin de Perrot. She met the French painter Remy Aron and Pierre Henry, all of whom greatly influenced her work. She received her nomination for membership of the French National Fine Art Society (SNBA) in 2003. Her work has been displayed annually in the new gallery of the Louvre since 2003. Chevalier has been among the selected artists representing SNBA at one of the major national art events in France, "L'Art en Capital", taking place in Paris’ Grand Palais. In December 2004, the US Virginia Common Wealth University School of Art in Qatar hosted a major solo exhibition for Chevalier, presenting for the first time her experimental ink painting collection.

Chevalier went to London in 2003 to attend the Dali Studio at the Central Saint Martins’ College of Art and Design. She later enrolled in post graduate studies in fine art and received her degree in 2007. In the same year she won the competition for displaying her work at the Royal Academy summer exhibition in London. She was also shortlisted for Celeste Art Prize, an art competition organised by the London’s Goldsmith School of Arts. At that time the Rector of the University of the Art, London, Lord Michael Bichard discovered Chevalier's work and became a collector.

Chevalier embarked on the Chinese art scene in 2007. She met the Chinese art theorist Peng Feng, Director the of the Chinese Pavilions at the 54e Venice Biennale, who became the art curator for Chevalier's major exhibitions in three Chinese National Museums.

Major exhibitions[edit]

Three major retrospective exhibitions of Li Chevalier have been successively presented by the National Art Museum of China (2010), the Today Art Museum in Beijing (2010), the Shanghai Art Museum (2011). Chevalier's work became part of the permanent collection of the National Art Museum of China Namoc in 2010. Two of her major works became part of the French Embassy's art collection and are hanging presently at the reception salon of the French Residence in Beijing, next to the works of two other Chinese born French artists Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun.

In 2007, Li Chevalier's work was shown at the Royal Academy of Arts London Summer exhibition. Her works appeared also in some major international art fairs and exhibitions, such as the Art Salon of the French National Fine Art Society at Carrousel du Louvre (2003), l'Art en Capital at the Grand Palais (2007,2011), London Art Fair (2007), Glasgow Art Fair (2008), Northern Art Fair (2008), Shanghai Art Fair (2008), Beijing International Art Fair (2011), the Doha National Art Gallery Al Bida.

Her other art events include exhibitions at the Wuhan Art Museum (2010), the New Vision Art Museum (2010), Huantie Art Museum Beijing (2009), Shangshang Art Museum Beijing (2010), Colombia University art gallery, Korean Cultural Art Centre in Beijing.

Artistic style[edit]

Experimental ink[edit]

Li Chevalier's retrospective exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2010)
Touche subliminale, Li Chevalier's retrospective exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2010)
Black, white, and in between, Li Chevalier's retrospective exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum (2011)
Li Chevalier's retrospective exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2010)
Les stèles de lumière, Li Chevalier's retrospective exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum (2011)
Li ChevalierLa sonate d'hiver by Li Chevalier
I hear the water dreaming by Li Chevalier (2007)
Pathetical by Li Chevalier (2008)

Li Chevalier's experimental ink painting style can be identified by her personal way of incorporating Chinese ink into canvas, blended with pigment, mineral chips, sand and elements of Chinese art such as rice paper and calligraphy. By using such mixed media, she transcends the classical ink-on-paper model. Her work carries a strong oriental aesthetic sensitivity, however embedded in a modern art medium.

Installation and scenography[edit]

Li Chevalier's exhibitions and installations are mostly known for their scenographic design, and for her site-specific spatial compositions which carry theatrical qualities. Emphasis is given on the use of light, environment and sound, but also to the visitors' physical participation in the event, all contributing to a sensory experience which generates enjoyment in front of the work.

Aesthetic and spiritual quest[edit]

Departing from the satirical pop art trends dominating the contemporary Chinese art landscape, Chevalier's art expresses a strong orientation for an aesthetic and spiritual quest.

On her semi -abstract canvas, the symbolic function of black and white plays the role of a visual representation of an oriental cosmic vision. Contrary to some western philosophical outlooks which value grandeur, eternity and absolutes, the Zen aesthetic posture perceived in Chevalier's works conveys the qualities of modesty, humanity and illusiveness. It depicts the fleeting destiny of human existence. A peculiar predilection for simplicity and moderation is noticeable in her works. Her choice of forms is reduced to their simplest expression; colours to subtle tones. She adopts naturally curved shapes rather than hard edges. The transparent grey and fluid brush strokes, suggestive of cascading water, which is simultaneously controlled and uncontrollable, can be seen as a metaphorical language for fate.

Landscape is a major theme in Chevalier's works. Unlike the geometric harmony of the French garden, the Zen-inspired landscapes that she portrays are intentionally spontaneous. In his book Le sens du Beau, the French philosopher Luc Ferry suggests that the French Garden is a rationalist expression of abstract mathematical reason by which one reaches the truth and the divine order. Zen-inspired nature in Chevalier's works could then be compared to the virginal nature of the Payne spirit cherished by Western romanticism. Intuition is preferred to intellectual order; spontaneity prevails over geometric proportion.

Between music and visual art[edit]

Chevalier’s childhood was one in which she was exposed to and offered education in the arts. This led her, in the first instance, into the field of music. At the age of 15, she was selected by the Chinese Army’s Operatic troupe to be trained as a singer. Music remains her lifelong passion, alongside her professional practice as a visual artist. She has sung as soprano in the Paris Orchestra’s Choir under the direction of Arthur Oldham and Semyon Bychkov, She performed frequently under the direction of the French conductor Hugues Reiner.

She has collaborated with the violin super soloist of Paris Opera, Frederic Laroque, since 1991, as well as staged two concerts in association with the former China Radio Orchestra and the China Film Orchestra. A solo exhibition of Chevalier in December 2004 entitled <Painting music>, under the patronage of the Qatar Foundation, was associated with a concert performance by the String Quartet of Paris Opera (QOP). In 2010, she staged a solo exhibition <Visual Symphony> at the French Cultural Centre in Beijing paying homage to the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks.

Music has been one of the recurrent themes in her later art works. The painting entitled I hear the water dreaming exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2007, is an homage paid to the Japanese composer Takemitzu. Her painting Symphony of Destiny, now part of the French Embassy art collection, is a homage to Beethoven. Other examples of her works related to music are: The rite of spring by Stravinsky (private collection in the US), the Transfigured Night (Verklärte Nacht) composed by Arnold Schoenberg and the Two voice invention by Bach. In 2011, Her major installation work displayed at the Shanghai Art Museum was strongly inspired by the Belgium composer Dirk Brosse's violin concerto: Black , white and in between.

Major works[edit]

  • 2004 : Pathetical, 100 cm x 100 cm, mixed media on canvas; private collection in France
  • 2007 : The Voice of Silence, 137 cm x 137 cm, mixed media on canvas; private collection in the UK, work displayed at the Royal Academy of London
  • 2008 : La tolérance du vide, 150 cm x 150 cm, mixed media on canvas; work displayed at the Grand Palais in 2008
  • 2008 : Transfigured Night, 150 cm x 150 cm, mixed media on canvas; work displayed at the National Museum of China
  • 2009 : Le Sonate d'hiver, 175 cm x 175 cm, mixed media on canvas; work displayed at the Today Art Museum in 2010
  • 2010 : L'Origine, 175 cm x 175 cm, mixed media on canvas; collection of French Embassy in China
  • 2010 : Les stèles de Lumière, installation; displayed at the National Museum of China
  • 2010 : Symphony of Destiny, 300 cm x 195 cm, mixed media on canvas; collection of French Embassy in China
  • 2010 : Beyond the horizon, 300 cm x 195 cm, mixed media on canvas; work displayed at retrospective Li Chevalier, National Museum of China
  • 2010 : Sublimated Touch, mixed media on canvas; work displayed at Today Art Museum
  • 2010 : Waiting, 300 cm x 195 cm, mixed media on canvas; permanent collection at the National Museum of China
  • 2011 : Black and White and In Between, installation; displayed at Shanghai Art Museum


External links[edit]