Impasto Layers Blur Portraits and Landscapes in Li Songsong’s Fragmented Oil Paintings

“I Am What I Am” (2020), 120 x 100 centimeters. All images © Li Songsong, shared with permission

Chinese artist Li Songsong (previously) obscures portraits and wider landscapes with thick dabs of oil paint. His textured, impasto works are based on found photographs or imagined scenes, and each conveys a narrative tied to ordinary moments or a broader shared history. Varying the extent of distortion in every piece, Songsong tells Colossal that interrogating personal identity is at the center of his practice. The “cultural and historical aspects are related to China, and the language and expressions are my own,” he explains.

Songsong’s recent works include a tender scene with an officer and his dog, a portrait of a hopeful pilot, and a panoramic shot featuring a crowd with hundreds of anonymous faces. The richly layered pieces speak to the haziness and fragmentary nature of memories and stories, especially those interpreted from a distance, and come into focus when viewed farther back with a squint.

Based in Beijing, Songsong is currently working on a new series of works, which you can follow on his site.

 

“Blondi” (2019), 210 x 180 centimeters

“Blondi” (2019), 210 x 210 centimeters

“Tea for Two” (2020), 210 x 210 centimeters

“No More Tears” (2020), 100 x 100 centimeters

“You Haven’t Looked at Me that Way in Years” (2020), 170 x 280 centimeters

“Three Decades” (2019), 210 x 420 centimeters

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