(1907 - 1989)
Keran Li was active/lived in China. Keran Li is known for modernist and traditional painting-figures in landscape.
Biography from the Archives of askART
From Jiangsu Province, China, Keran Li was an artist who combined an
avant-garde thematic approach with traditional mediums and
methods. Using ink and watercolor and familiar scroll-like motifs
with calligraphy, he markedly departed from the familiar academic
treatment of humans awed and dwarfed in size by dramatic landscape
vistas. Instead Keran Li injected humor and interaction by
placing awkward, clumsy-looking animal companions, such as water
buffalo, and distracted, day-dreaming young cowboys in landscape
vistas. Often these subjects seemed only mildly impresssed with
their natural surroundings because they were distracted by their own
activities such as playing tug of war or looking at each other for
responses rather than overwhelming mountainscapes.
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For Li Keran, landscape and calligraphy painting was of interest from
the time he was a teenager. He enrolled in the Shanghai Art
College in 1923, and there was much influenced by lectures he heard by
Kang Youwei, who advocated learning from traditional Chinese art
methods and emerging realism from Europe. "Kangs's ideal of
merging Eastern and Western art to create a new century in Chinese
painting inspired Li greatly and became his lifelong pursuit."
In 1929, he went on to study as a graduate student at the Hangzhou
College. His courses were in drawing and oil painting with Andre
Claoudit, French teacher. During this time, he began
experimenting with German Expresssionism. He also joined a
leftist group, the Yiba Art Society, in 1932, and that same year had
his first one-person exhibition.
Li's experimenting with figure painting in ink
and wash and his innovative technique of splashed ink brought him much
public attention after this initial solo exhibition. During the
Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), he began painting cowboy and water
buffalo subjects, giving them a unique appearance with his innovative
use of splashed ink.
In 1946, he was hired as a faculty member at the Beijing National Art
College, and there his mentors were Qi Baishi and Huang Binhong.
Baishi later described Li as "the most important painter in the
After 1954, Li did a lot of sketching from nature, asserting that
drawing was the necessary step to reform Chinese painting. To
traditional approaches, he added Western elements such a
chiaroscuro. In later years, he attracted many followers, who
formed the "Li School" in the 1980s. They revered him, not so
much as a rebel but as an artist who blended new and old methods
of Chinese art.
http://www.chinaonlinemuseum.com/painting-li-keran.php (quotations are from this reference)
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