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Qian Li

Li, Qian from Beijing, China - fine artist and graphic designer based in New York, NY.

The dolls that I paint are a metaphor for the ways humans act.  These dolls are controlled as “players” by their master, acting on a “performance stage” just as humans are restrained by factors such as family, society, peers, and even themselves. They try to perfect themselves in order to fit into the social norms. In the process of blindly following this “expected” path on the “life stage”, we lose the chance and even desire to be the “true character” we innately long for. In other words, we lose our identity.
I examine the relationship between dolls and human beings through a series of oil paintings and installations that involve the arrangement of canvases and popcorn figures.  Each character in my painting is a mixture between a doll and a human being, both real and fantasy. Each face distinguishes itself from others by its unique features. However, they are all given porcelain skin, partly human features seen on the noses and mouths, and empty, dark, hollowed eyes ironically hinting at a superficiality of appearance. I also incorporated language into the paintings. The dolls are lined up to “say” several short statements by changing their mouth shapes. Although they all are making an attempt to say something, silence still remains.


My major influence come from personal experiences, which are composed of reading classical books and attending the top schools in China to majoring in a field that was not my first choice; I am exhausted from being the perfect student. The dolls are a representation of myself: fighting against the superficial, and looking for the “ideal character” that I desire to become.
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