Animal Paintings

Li K'e-jan (1907 - 1989)
Water Buffalo

Hanging Scroll, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, 27 x 17.5 in., (68.5 x 44.5 cm.)

Chu Griffis Collection #9Li K'e-jan, commonly known as the "Buffalo artist", is one of the leading artists in China today. In the twenties he studied oil painting under the pioneer oil painter Liu Hai-su in Shanghai. In the early thirties he was a student of the modern artist Lin Feng-mien at Hangchou. Thus he had a foundation of Western techniques. Fascination with Chinese theories of art and exposure to various kinds of landscapes changed Li's work.

His mountains are not mountains of the mind, nor are they painted in the literati manner. His commitment is to modify Chinese landscape painting. When the New Regime campaigned to reform art, Li wrote an article entitled, "How to Reform Chinese Painting." This echoed the directive that all painting be enjoyed by the people. He painted a particular place as he saw it. In painting the song, "East is Red" the landscape is literally painted in a flamboyant red color. His black roofs with white walls are typical.

As Li grew older, studying with Chi Pai-shih brought him back to a more traditional style. He remembers his boyhood when water buffalo labored in rice paddies. Since the post-Mao era he often depicts humorous stories, folksy figures in well-known poems. He is a synthesizer.

This water buffalo was done for my friends, Prof. and Mrs. Fang-yu Wang, in 1986.

It was purchased with funds provided by Sharon and Hughes Griffis in July 1987.