An Li Liu was born in Guelph, Ontario Canada and lived in Toronto for over a decade before moving to the US. She resided in Boston, MA for several years, and then moved to Berkeley in 2014. She attended the University of Toronto majoring in Cinema Studies and Religion. An Li also studied New Media Design and worked in the industry as a web and graphic designer. She is a traveller at heart having traversed much of South and South East Asia where colors and energies are very potent. An Li delved into yoga practices with a special interest in Buddhist philosophy and then became a yoga instructor herself several years ago. While An Li took formal art classes in University, she is mainly a self-taught artist with many influences — everything from sublime landscapes and atmospheres to city energy and our shared existential conditions.
I have explored painting throughout my adult life in different ways — first collage and acrylic painting, and then hand-painted paper collages that were very graphical and geometric. While working as a graphic and web designer, I taught myself screen-printing, which led to my line of hand-printed apparel.
In my current work I use a variety of painting media including acrylics urethanes, and spray paint that I pour, splatter, scrape and drip onto canvas. I’ve been creating paintings using colors borrowed from my screen-printing such as fluorescent inks, and implements including squeegees, old credit cards, and spatulas. Through these media I’m exploring aspects of control and lack of control, boundaries, edges, and areas of the unknown and unexplored. This abstract, vibrant work is ripe with roiling movement, rich in layered popping colors, textures, and patterns. These paintings convey big pulsating energy – expanding and contracting, moving forward and backward in time. This work reveals an interaction, a conversation of forces, relationships of forms, which are the culminations of memories, landscapes near and far, dreams, and imagined realms.
I find comfort in the act of painting, but there is also a tension around the outcome. The process rides this edge of hopefulness, anticipation, and excitement, and being present to the discomfort of the unknown, and potential disappointment. There is also a feeling of transience and impermanence, a sense of both bigness and smallness, in the compositions that manifest.
The edges and lines can be blurry, clear, soft, smooth, thick or hard, and maybe erratic and unnerving. I’m interested in these qualities and what they conjure up. I think that the colors, shapes and forms are conversing with one another — that they are in relationships that are simultaneously spontaneous and planned. On one hand, while some colors may not seem copacetic together, they tend to develop their own special way of being with one another. Their own unique harmony develops and evolves over time.
I have traveled a lot and moved cities and countries over the years. Between my extended stays in South East Asia and finding homes in the US, painting now serves to ground me in my California surroundings. All the movement from place to place and my on-going explorations has become part of my inner workings. Part of my own settling process is to convey my experience through this visual realm.