“I believe material and form can be a language to express moral values. The theme for this exhibition is “Imperfect”. It is based on the traditional Eastern aesthetics that beauty can be silent and still and even imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.
I warmly invite Australians to come and feel the Eastern philosophy through my works. I will be honoured to meet new and old friends during the exhibition” – Li Wen
Perfectly Imperfect, The Mastery of Wen Li
Wen Li’s astounding new body of work represents what this artist has accomplished through deep knowledge of process and material, a disciplined philosophical approach, and thoughtful refinement. Here is an artist of heightened sensibilities who has reached the mature state of mastery. Wen Li’s work is visually powerful yet characterized by subtle shades of meaning and expression. One does not just see Wen Li’s work, it must be simultaneously seen and felt. In this way the viewer can begin to understand the mysterious language of the soul that Wen Li has created, a language in which abstract geometric and natural forms become a gateway to a richly symbolic universe.
Glass is a demanding material and it takes years of experimentation and hard work to master the process of glass casting. I mention this because Wen Li is one of a handful of international artists who has painstakingly dedicated himself over the years to the mastery of this demanding material and the processes of forming it. Due to this material mastery Wen Li has developed an intimate free flowing fluency to his creative voice. I get the impression that he can make whatever he imagines and that he makes exactly what he wants. It is important to point out that Wen Li is now incorporating other materials into his predominantly glass sculptures. This act allows for ever more intricate nuances to his work. This is a significant development as glass can be more fully comprehended in comparison to other materials. Think of these incorporated materials as seasoning adding to the flavour of the work overall.
To see such an accomplished artist grapple with the concept of perfection is fascinating. While glass can be deeply understood it cannot be dominated. Only the most experienced artist understands that glass is a material which is very much alive. Wen Li knows this well, he converses with glass, he dances with glass in the spirit of collaboration. Through this interaction intimacy with the material is developed and it is perhaps here that Wen Li discovered that “perfection” implies a static state of being and “imperfection” implies states of being and transition more in keeping with the ways of nature. Glass at a molecular level is unlike any other material, it has an amorphous structure with no regular arrangement of atoms. With this understanding Wen Li creates the perfectly imperfect, sculptural forms that embody and embrace all that is metaphorically fluid, changing, and in transition.
One could write a book regarding the symbolism and philosophy behind Wen Li’s visual language. Upon viewing it is perhaps best to carefully read the title of the work, then forget that title and simply stand before the work quietly and become receptive to the work itself. Wen Li’s work can be comprehended through the senses yet it will still retain an element of mystery. It is this sense of mystery that engages curiosity and encourages the viewer to revisit the works again and again. Wen Li challenges the viewer to actively engage his works, to meditate and contemplate upon their meaning and to ultimately form their own impressions. I have always enjoyed this challenge finding Wen Li’s work thought provoking and a pleasure to experience. My congratulations to Wen Li on this profoundly poetic and expertly realized body of work!
– Michael Rogers, Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology