Li Fuyuan was born in 1942 in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, China. In 1957 he was admitted to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to study in the studio of Wu Guanzhong, in the department of oil painting. During his studies he was exposed to 19th Century Impressionist paintings whilst also being influenced by traditional Chinese folk art. He became a favourite student of Wu Guanzhong, however, both the student and his teacher were treated harshly during the Cultural Revolution. Li eventually graduated from the Academy in 1963 despite some controversy with extreme left elements of the art circle.
Li taught in Beijing for many years after his graduation before quitting to become one of China’s earliest freelance painters. Li’s drawings show skills in a wide range of subjects, including animals, landscapes and figures and he has a very distinctive style of painting featuring unusual compositions and the use of bold brush strokes and strong colours. The inspiration for Li’s artworks can be found in the countryside surrounding his hometown where animal families can be seen in their natural habitats. Li uses the strong colours and bold brush strokes in a sensitive way to express the joy he finds in life and nature. He uses his work to remind people of the beauty of the natural world and to urge them to protect all living creatures, particular those species at risk of extinction.
Li’s artworks have been successfully displayed in the UK, USA and Asia. In May 1991, he was invited to attend the Exhibition of the Works of Wu Guanzhong and His Students that was held under the sponsorship of the Chinese Artists Association at the National Museum of Chinese History. The exhibition brought him great fame. His most recent exhibitions include the 20/21 International Art Fair in London in 2011 and the acclaimed exhibition Animal Kingdom: Paintings by Li Fuyuan which was shown at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath in 2010.
Art critic and Fellow of the Chinese Academy of Arts, Zhai Mo has commented “The dark coloured birds, fishes and animals come alive under brush, one after another. His paintings appear to be lively and bold, giving little attention to forms. To ensure the quality of the colours, he never mixes black ink with colours when painting, but he likes to put heavy black ink against the bright colours to create contrast, allowing them to support, embrace and complement each other.
2010 Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, UK, Animal Kingdom: Paintings by Li Fuyuan
2009 Bridge Gellery, Beijing, China, Paradise of Life – Li Fuyuan’s Ink and Colour Paintings
2001 Zee Stone Gallery, Hong Kong