“By magnifying small details, you might be able to see the truth.”
Yi Gallery is pleased to present a new group of works by Lilou (Li Xia). This is the France-based artist’s first solo show in New York and her second show with the gallery. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, September 24 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The opening coincides with Industry City’s second #ArtSaturday event.
While Lilou’s paintings are clearly figurative, they are not in any overtly descriptive way. She frames and explodes everyday details of everyday life. In her images, quiet moments of human interactions and scenes of domesticity, both realistic and imaginary, come to life: an everyday lamp, a shopping list, lovers kissing, a bite of a fresh strawberry, people sharing fruit, a small piece of sticky Scotch tape … All seemingly insignificant details are magnified and explored with a warm dash of humor. Lilou’s tableaus come from real life. Her work cinematically frames mundane details and invites the viewer into vignettes that capture the tension of familiar and overlooked moments. “I think in pictures,” says the artist, “I like to paint moments that don’t show cause and effect, before and after. You are in flux.” Also on view is a new series of ceramic works in dialogue with the watercolor and oil paintings in the exhibition.
in the Eye contact – butterfly kiss (2022), a large oil on canvas painting and the title work of the exhibition, Lilou depicts the tender moment in which the eyelashes of two lovers kissing gently touch and the two faces merge. 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 – the People’s Liberation Monument in my hometown of Chongqing. This is where the two rivers Yangtze and Jialing meet. The two rivers are different colors, but when they flow together they do not change color.”
Completed Lilou Lovers (February 14), an intimate size watercolor work mounted on a wooden panel, on Valentine’s Day in 2021. It is a close-up of an intimate moment – the ears of two lovers touching. Here, Lilou explores painting’s full ability to give fleeting moments like this a lasting visual representation. Close-ups are powerful, shortening the viewing distance and making the experience dynamic and intimate. For Lilou, enlarging isolated frames takes her into a world akin to meditation.
Perhaps we are already familiar with Lilou’s fictional themes. For the artist, a character is only a signifier, and she deliberately omits representative details that could reveal the gender, racial, or social identity of her protagonists. The figures in her works do not look directly at the viewer. you look away You are detached. It is very important to the artist that the objects and figures in her work remain as natural as possible. You pose for nobody. You will not be observed. This world is an open space that anyone can enter freely. In this world, bread dances, condensed milk speaks love talks, and objects shift through different stages of personification. Precise and sensual, these meticulously constructed scenes are imbued with a sense of calm and surreal humor. Though her narrative clearly lacks a definite plot, Lilou leaves clues that suggest something just happened. Lilou’s images don’t just capture events, they capture feelings – emotions buried deep within our consciousness. These cleanly cut scenes celebrate analogue, delicious and sometimes forgotten moments in life. They act as a kind of visual fossil – testament to our human existence – how we live, work and love.
Li Xia, also known as 绿李 Lilou Oh Yeah (*1991, Chongqing, China), lives and works in Rouen, France. Lilou attended Université de Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne (MFA, 2021), l’École Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen (ESADHaR) (MFA, 2020) and the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (BFA, 2014). She has exhibited internationally at venues such as LONG Museum, Minsheng Art Museum, Bananafish Gallery in Shanghai, China, Villa des Arts in Paris, France and Rola Bola in Rouen, France. YI GALLERY’s program includes an international roster of emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery began in 2018 as a curatorial project with exhibitions in non-traditional settings and has expanded to include a collaborative exhibition space in Bushwick (2020-2021). The gallery continues to evolve with a new space in Brooklyn’s vibrant creative hub, Industry City, opening in 2021. YI strives to provide a platform for distinctive artistic voices while enhancing the public’s interaction with contemporary art.