Jan 05, 2022
Li Feng’s Architecture: The Ambiguous Reality Section (Excerpt) —On Li Feng’s Artistic Practice 2003-2021
Li Feng stands above the act of observation, yet leaves a window open to explore the indescribable mysteries within. – Epigraph
Li Feng pieces together the elusive sections of reality, delving deep into forbidden areas through the use of visual language codes that manipulate reality and illusion with layers of expression. In the liminal “time difference” and constrained environments, Li Feng’s art evokes a dangerous and mysterious interaction between opposing forces. He uses austere compositions to suppress the provocative elements that stimulate desire, thus delaying the pleasure of cognition, exploring the trajectory of prolonging the unknown.
Li Feng’s practice is a tireless pursuit of self-reflection. His pursuit of observation is transformed into a dimension that goes beyond vision, rising from raw meanings to his own inquiries. He elevates invisible thoughts to the level of existence, enlarging or shrinking daily objects, occasionally revealing secrets and other times keeping them hidden, and even decoding the invisible with an honesty that is almost brutal, reflecting a strong sense of absurdity. These images leave viewers bewildered, fascinated, and uncomfortable, immersing them in a psychological contemplation. When entering his various patterns, one must repeatedly allow the self to occupy the body and mind.
People each live in a world that is incomprehensible to each other. Growing up through migration, Li Feng raises the question of how opposing forces can coexist peacefully. How can people who cannot communicate with this world communicate with each other?
The versatile artist Li Feng has been pursuing a way of working with images that is both conceptually challenging and visually striking, exploring and expanding the potential of images. He seeks to break down the boundaries between creation and painting, producing objects that are uncertain and ambiguous, with finely detailed elements that expand and contract.
Li Feng’s practice is indefinite, with shadowy and enigmatic figures, absurd and comical, erasing the fatigue of visual observation. His subtle narratives are deeply embedded in the viewer’s mind, capturing fleeting moments in time. The boundary between image making and current meanings is blurred, creating a new agreement between the artist’s voyeurism and the viewer’s perception. Li Feng rises above the act of seeing, yet leaves a window open to observe the mysterious and indescribable.
Some of Li Feng’s works explore the human body and space, delving into the survival of organs and bodily discourse within a multiplicity of abnormal worlds. Through moments of collapse or clarity, they point to an entrance or exit of the body. He offers an organ sociology of exit, while leaving behind numerous questions to be pondered.
Li Feng leaves his mark on bodies with meaningful and playful extensions, and the body cannot be described in a single sentence. The fastest way to travel between two points is not a straight line, but a circuitous path. The body is a channel that has the potential to lead to another time and place, possibly harboring mysterious and unattainable secrets.
Intentionally removing the atmosphere from his images, Li Feng’s calm and even dull processing of the subject matter paradoxically resurrects dissected bodies and desires, causing them to speak and discuss. He elevates the consideration of the dissected body beyond the physical realm, invading unfamiliar bodily territories and defying traditional boundaries. In the arena of body confrontation, the frigid body slowly engulfs another tangible body, and one’s own body may also become a “discarded” one.
Li Feng’s practice has always had a literary underpinning. As a poet as well, the dissected body becomes a living being that emits a moan, and the voices of marriage, family, society, and death are echoed through the body. How can a dissected body emit a cry? The deconstructed body twists and turns, resonating with the rhythm of poetry in a visual manner.
In Li Feng’s repeated discussion of the body’s secrecy, we cannot help but ask – where exactly is the body? Where do you go when you pass through the body? What is on the other side of the body? Is there really a new concept of the body in real life? Does time travel through the body really exist? Is there a difference between the body and a time machine? Many formalized jobs are gradually being replaced by intelligence, and perhaps only the internal logic of art is safe. Can Zhang Ke’s “body” as a metaphor reserve thinking space for hypothetical “bodies” in physics and medicine? “Is the body still a classical dining table? Is it identity anxiety? Is it the Solar Diary? Is it a dangerous relationship? Is it the periodic table of elements? Is it Jack Jones? Is it Tiesi District? Is it ‘like a distant island’?” (The names are from Li Feng’s works)
Li Feng has been practicing around the body and things outside the body for many years. Each “transformation about the body” has a close coherence. The body is a way to find the edge of time. Can you do instant spatial transfer or time travel through the body? His “body” is a hypothesis and also a rigorous theory.
Different semantic levels of “bodies” are studied in theoretical physics, social ethics, and culture. In response to the seemingly glamorous interdisciplinary topics, scholars who have true knowledge and dare to speak are good at using the methodology of dissecting the body to discover the truth inside the seemingly prosperous surface. Artists should find new bodies within the world of appearances and solve problems internally. Li Feng is a person who continues to search for problems inside the body.
Li Feng’s repeated discussion of the body invites the audience to participate in dissecting themselves and viewing phenomena and opinions that people are accustomed to from different perspectives, changing and disrupting the viewer’s habitual thinking. This is his unrelenting path of debunking with a stern and playful undertone. From dissecting the body to translating different maps, he seeks the exceptional state of the body, and perception and motivation are alienated. He tries to mobilize the audience to dissect the body as a landscape society, and the audience’s passive viewing is transformed into active perception. In the open landscape, the audience obtains their own reference coordinates and deeply participates, and sensory factors are strengthened due to the mechanism set. Body perception will continue to increase. Li Feng’s section seems to be step by step deepening, step by step alarming, and full of danger. After the path to the bottom and peeling the cocoon, can he hit the nail on the head? Behind his gentle and stern daily life and independent thinking sharpness is a deep concern for social reality. At the same time, he maintains a cautious distance from these directions.
Continuously exploring the intangible and invisible, Li Feng’s works seem like entries in an encyclopedia, filled with his endless thoughts and imagination about things. The reason why the spirit is tormented is that it does not obey the desires within, thus losing the imagination about the body. In order to retain the imagination of sexuality, artists delete mainstream concepts that constrain themselves. His bodily (including physical body, spatial body, and landscape) imagination is an exploration of the psyche. The weightless imagination is also stern, but without any emotional elements. This is his innate attribute.
The body is only a starting point for Li Feng’s research. His entire artistic practice goes from the body, the inner landscape of the human body, to outside of the body. He is “thinking outside of my body” in order to surpass observation and set up windows that allow entry into the house. His windows even open constantly or simultaneously, reaching the parts of architecture, like a back window…