Lilou Li Xia makes her first solo debut in New York at YI GALLERY
“By magnifying small details, you may be able to see the truth.”
Yi Gallery is pleased to present a new body of work by Lilou (Li Xia). This is the French-based artist’s first solo exhibition in New York and his second exhibition with the gallery. A vernissage will take place on Saturday, September 24 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The opening will coincide with Industry City’s second #ArtSaturday event.
Lilou’s images, while clearly figurative, are not overtly descriptive. She frames and explodes the mundane details of everyday life. In his images, calm moments of human interaction and scenes of domestic life, both realistic and imaginary, come to life: a banal lamp, a shopping list, amorous kisses, a bite of a fresh strawberry, people sharing fruit, a small piece of sticky tape. tape… All the seemingly insignificant details are magnified and explored with a touch of warm humour. Lilou’s paintings emanate from real life. Cinematically framing mundane details, his work invites the viewer into vignettes that capture the tension of familiar and neglected moments. “I think in pictures,” according to the artist, “I like to paint moments that don’t show cause and effect, before and after. They are in a state of flux. Also presented is a new series of ceramic works, in dialogue with the watercolors and oil paintings of the exhibition.
In Eye Contact – Butterfly Kiss (2022), a large oil on canvas painting and the show’s titular work, Lilou depicts the tender moment when the eyelashes of two kissing lovers gently touch, the two faces merging into one. ‘other. Here, subtly different colors are used to represent the skin tones of the two faces. As the artist states, “The color palette reminds me of Jiefangbei – People’s Liberation Monument in my hometown of Chongqing. This is where the two rivers, Yangtze and Jialing, meet. The two rivers have different colors, but when they merge they do not change each other’s colors.
Lilou finished The Lovers (February 14), an intimate sized watercolor mounted on wood panel, on Valentine’s Day in 2021. This is a close up of an intimate moment – two lovers ears touching. Here, Lilou explores all the ability of paint to give fleeting moments, like this, a permanent visual representation. Close-ups are powerful, shortening the viewing distance, making the experience dynamic and intimate. For Lilou, growing in isolated frames leads her into a world close to meditation.
We may already be familiar with Lilou’s fictional subjects. For the artist, a character is only a signifier, and she intentionally omits representational details that may reveal the gender, racial, or social identity of her protagonists. The figures in his work do not look directly at the viewer. They look away. They are detached. It is very important to the artist that the objects and figures in his work remain in their most natural state. They don’t pose for anyone. They are not monitored. This world is an open space in which everyone can enter freely. In this world, bread dances, condensed milk express amorous discourse and objects pass through stages of personification. Precise and sensual, these meticulously constructed scenes are imbued with a sense of tranquility and surreal humor. Although it decidedly lacks a distinct plot in its narrative, Lilou leaves traces that suggest something just happened. Lilou’s photos don’t just record events, they capture feelings – emotions buried deep in our consciousness. These perfectly cropped scenes celebrate life’s analog, delightful, and sometimes forgotten moments. They act as a kind of visual fossil – proof of our human existence – how we live, work and love.
Li Xia, also known as 绿李 Lilou Oh Yeah (born 1991 in Chongqing, China), lives and works in Rouen, France. Lilou attended the University of Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne (MFA, 2021), the Superior School of Art and Design Le Havre-Rouen (ESADHaR) (MFA, 2020) and the Institute of Fine Arts of Sichuan ( BFA, 2014). She has exhibited internationally at venues including LONG Museum, Minsheng Art Museum, Bananafish Gallery in Shanghai, China, Villa des Arts in Paris, France, and Rola Bola in Rouen, France. The YI GALLERY program features an international roster of emerging and mid-career artists. Launched in 2018 as a curatorial project exhibiting in non-traditional settings, the gallery has expanded to include a collaborative exhibition space in Bushwick (2020-2021). The gallery continues to evolve with a new space inside Brooklyn’s vibrant creative hub, Industry City, launching in 2021. YI is committed to providing a platform for distinctive artistic voices, while enhancing interaction of the public with contemporary art.