Past I by Li Songsong

Li Songsong

The Past

Mar 16 – Apr 27, 2024
Los Angeles
Exhibition Details

Li Songsong
The Past
Mar 16 – Apr 27, 2024


1201 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles


Press Release


(opens in a new window) @pacegallery

Above: Li Songsong, Past I, 2023 © Li Songsong
Pace is pleased to present an exhibition of new and recent paintings by Chinese artist Li Songsong at its Los Angeles gallery.

On view from March 16 to April 27, the upcoming presentation will mark the artist's first-ever solo exhibition in LA as well as his first solo show in the US since 2019.

One of the most celebrated contemporary painters in China, Li has honed his distinct style—marked by his use of reliefs, tense brushstrokes, and solid color blocks—over the last 20 years as part of his pursuit “to paint something that had a certain distance from reality,” as he once put it. Inflected by history, politics, and culture, Li’s art is forged in enactments of accumulation and subtraction, of exposure and obscuration. At once personal, imaginative, and truthful, his deeply expressionistic paintings often depict fragmented, semi-abstract figurations underpinned by narratives that the viewer can decipher and absorb.

During his painting process, the artist deconstructs and reconstructs recognizable images from newspapers, films, historical photographs, and other media, reinterpreting them through the lens of his own experiences and memories while also creating new textural dimensions within his works. In abstracting images from their original contexts, Li has cultivated a unique visual language that invites viewers to see the world in new terms—from a different aesthetic perspective.

“To this day, this principle—of generating various meanings through intensified looking—runs like a red line throughout Li’s oeuvre,” curator Hendrik Bündge writes in his essay “History as Material as History” in a 2015 catalogue for Li’s exhibition at the Museo d’Arte Modema di Bologna and the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden.

Li’s latest abstractions, which will be the subject of his upcoming show at Pace in LA, reflect his stream-of- consciousness approach to painting. Seeking psychological liberation from specific notions and themes, the artist has continued refining an increasingly pure language of painting since 2020. His creative approach is informed by the relationship between existence and the existent. Li’s making process for his new works is guided by his mental state— the force that drives his pursuit of freedom on the canvas.

Each work in the exhibition at Pace’s LA gallery represents a sum of the artist’s idiosyncratic brushstrokes, with the placements, shapes, and colors of his strokes determined by his state of mind at the moment paint meets surface. There is also a temporal quality to this generative process, since each stroke leaves its own indelible mark, even if it is covered by another stroke. For Li, these works are as much abstractions as they are portraits of his ever-evolving relationship to his chosen medium. In his ongoing exploration of what it means to create paintings about the act of painting, Li meditates on what it might mean to capture and express infinity within his compositions.


Featured Works

Li Songsong, It's Me Again, 2021, oil on canvas, 47-1/4" × 39-3/8" (120 cm × 100 cm)
Li Songsong, I’m Smiling, 2021, oil on canvas, 47-1/4" × 39-3/8" (120 cm × 100 cm)
Li Songsong, Ciao Ciao, 2022, oil on canvas, 59-1/16" × 94-1/2" (150 cm × 240 cm)
Li Songsong, Past I, 2023, oil on canvas, 47-1/4" × 39-3/8" (120 cm × 100 cm)
Li Songsong, We are Masters of the New World, 2022, oil on canvas, 47-1/4" × 39-3/8" (120 cm × 100 cm)
Li Songsong, Time, 2024, oil on canvas, 82-11/16" × 82-11/16" (210 cm × 210 cm)

Installation Views