Opulent Banquet.

Li Linying


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Li Linying’s patient, repetitive labour over the ten years it took her to knit 1500 lifelike strawberries echoes the patience required of her to bide her time before she was able to establish herself as an independent artist in Beijing. Born into a generation of Chinese people who studied and worked where the state allocated them, she spent more than 20 dutiful years working at the Institute of Broadcasting and Television of Liaoning University, making art in her spare time, before she could move to Beijing’s artist enclave of Songzhuang and spend all her time painting. Opulent Banquet and other works created with wool and knitting needles are somewhat separate from her painting practice. One day in 1998 she took some red and green wool left over after knitting a sweater for her son, and somewhat to her surprise found she had knitted a ripe, red strawberry, the medieval symbol of righteousness, love and perfection. Li continued to knit strawberries over a period of ten years, until they were bursting out of shopping bags, boxes and pillow cases in her home. The repeated labour of her knitting needles – such a humble, domestic, and mostly female craft – has produced something extraordinary: this installation of luscious opulence created from quotidian materials and the patient labour of the artist evokes the plenty of today’s society in comparison to the lean times of the past. Li Linying said:
‘Let my perseverance transform you into the most beautiful poetry.’
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