Li Nu: As if Sand Were Stone

Opening time:2022.9.16
Duration: 2022.09.17 -- 2022.11.15

Exhibition Preface

Today Art Museum presents the first museum survey of recent works by Chinese artist Li Nu. This comprehensive exhibition will feature over 20 works, with one exception of All that is Solid Melts into Air (2019), this new body of works demonstrates the relationship using various forms of media, from sculpture, to installation, video, and painting. Among these works the text installation, What’s the Date Today? has been exhibited on the external wall of the east side of Today Art Museum Hall 1.


If media for art is described as languages, sculpture is then Li Nu’s mother tongue. However, he is constantly influenced by the still and ever-evolving concept of the ‘Soziale Plastik’, too. He regards the sculpture as rather an action as well as the imprint and consequence of the action, to discuss the way an individual engages in and withdraws from this flux of the real world. In the meantime, this is also to re-discuss sculpture, according to the artist’s own words: “Digging into the possibilities within the language of sculpture, and into the extensivity of body, sculpture, performance, and video, I blur the boundaries between media to deal with the ‘complexity today’.” In practical art-making, Li Nu would elaborate materials with variability – for instance, lead, ice, lamb tallow, sound, or scent – and signify indefinite conditions and relations, therefore enabling the meaning carried by the works to extend durationally in space.


The experience of studying and traveling in Europe not only stimulated his longstanding interest and voice on topics of geopolitics, border-hood, and dissimilarity but has furthermore provided an abundant frame of reference when he zooms into Chinese local topics. Different from past generations of artists who exploited Chinese elements and symbols, Li Nu’s responses to our own environment are filled with vigorous imagination and intercultural quotations – sometimes he deliberately shows the meeting in confrontational presence; sometimes, he rather grounds the intensity of his thinking in the seemingly skittish expressions. Keenly, Li Nu is aware of the logic and value in artistic transformations: “the meaning of an art piece is not merely built by the specific events that are represented; the meaning is within its reflection over them.”


“As if Sand were Stone” is titled after a poem from a book by Argentina poet and writer, Jorge Luis Borges, first published in 1969. The poem writes: “Nothing is built upon stone: for all is built upon sand: but let each man build as if sand were stone...” These lines always stood deep down in Li Nu’s memory, until this time they turn into the exhibition title, aiming to deliver: each individual, even like a grain of sand, should be a persisting stone.


(Sep 3rd, 2022)


Zhu Zhu


Li Nu