Li Li Ren
To find a way home
Frieze Sculpture 2023
Curated by Fatoş Üstek
20 September - 29 October 2023
To find a way home is a sculptural composition of five bronze works, patinated and clad in gelatinous glass, evoking natural aquatic forms. Working with a traditional material deeply rooted in art history, Ren approaches this in a novel way, oxidizing the bronzes in bright colours before sealing them, then working on them with sand and glass. The lurid colours speak to the acidic palette of sea creatures, which represent, for the artist, one element of the sublime in the natural realm, and the strange crossover between the synthetic and the organic.
The installation comprises a continuation of Ren’s recent works around inter-body and inter-temporal connection through the aquatic, set in bronze, patina, wax, resin, volcanic sand and rubber across larger-scale, ambiguous natural forms. The piece speaks to the artist’s interest in the physics of water flow as symbolic of a desire to understand not only the distant presence of human memory and intimacy, but that of natural organisms beyond the anthropoid. Central to this is a preoccupation with semiotics, specifically communication beyond verbal and written language.
In her submerged realm, marine lifeforms surpass spatial disjunction through electric currents running between them, interpreted by specialized receptors of sensation that await information. An integral element to the make-up and origin of this body of work is the parallel between ancient-or-future creatures communicating through waves and ripples, and the ineffable sensation of motherhood and the imagining of the womb as akin not to our constructed worlds and languages, but rather to something older, rooted in sensation. The scale of the pieces is designed to create interaction among both adults and children, as they move through and around them, cultivating intimate moments with each individual work.
Li Li Ren, To find a way home II, 2023, bronze and patina, 28 x 27 x 22 cm
Li Li Ren (b. 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in London. She gained her BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2010 and her MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2017. Solo exhibitions include Sunset as Burning Bruise, Magician Space, Beijing (2022); and Frantumaglia, Qimu Space, Beijing (2021). Group exhibitions include: Home Is Where the Haunt Is, X Museum, Beijing (2023); Sculptural vibe cutting through (in) accessible sites, Gravity Art Museum, Beijing (2023); Into My Arms, Sherbet Green, London (2023); Memorias del subdesarrollo, Qimu Space, Beijing (2021); In/Out, Guardian Art Center, Beijing (2020); Silence in Violence, Spectrum Art Space, Shanghai (2018); and Camden Arts Centre, London (2017). She will have her first solo exhibition with Sherbet Green in January 2024.