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September-October 2017

Behind the exquisite chaos of Edmonton artist Wei Li

She was among finalists for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition

Maverick Canterville@mavjaycee

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OBSESSIVENESS AND EXCITEMENT, NEVER GROWING OUT OF THEM, OIL AND ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 40 X 60 INCHES

Wei Li’s painting speaks for itself. Her brush strokes tangle and twist in flashes of brilliant colour, in sumptuous variations of texture. It seems almost to evolve as you look at it, as if it might rearrange itself the moment you glance away. The startling immediacy of Li’s craft makes it no surprise to find her work, Obsessiveness and excitement, never growing out of them, among the 15 finalists in this year’s RBC Canadian Painting Competition.

Li, who emigrated from China in 2010 and now calls Edmonton home, characterizes her art as being about emotion and memory, and the subjective experience. “I try to bring the very complicated hybrid experience into my painting so it becomes very complex,” she says. “Something a little bit hard to recognize but you can sense it, you can feel it.” Her style is also remarkable for its use of “painterly gestures,” an intuitive method of painting that requires the artist to rely on instinct and experience. “I make decisions based on the moment when I’m painting,” Li explains. “I believe all the energy I put into the process will somehow find a way to stay on the canvas.” If Li’s work so far is any indication, that energy will not only stay on the canvas, it will also leap off to greet us.

The RBC Canadian Painting Competition, established in 1999, is an award intended to bridge the gap between emerging and established artists. The winner will be announced October 17.

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