Electric Currents and Mortal Wounds

Paintings of Aggression, Expression, and Action-Packed Human Movement

Contemplating the effects and influence of mega events such as the Olympics, artist Li-Hill was inspired to translate his thoughts into these intensely layered pieces of art. His works meditate on ideas of human movement and its entanglement with globalization and capitalism. ‘Fencers illustrate the aggressive, militaristic attributes behind these tactics yet also show the grace, speed and technological influence behind it,’ Li-Hill explained to us.

‘Fencing also holds deeply rooted visual associations to war, violence and competition,’ he continued. ‘The act is centuries old yet in contemporary fencing the images become wholly new.’ The title of the series, Electric Currents and Mortal Wounds, is a direct line from the artist’s statement about the works, in which he notes that technological advancements have radically changed how the sport is played.

‘Now the fencing suit is an electric receptor to the touch of the saber, foil or epee. But the broader connotation relates to the overall theme where the electric currents become the technologically influenced systems deployed, which keep large swaths of the population in cycles of complacence, poverty and disillusion. These systems become the mortal wounds for many populations within human society.’

Li-Hill is currently in the midst of creating the installation that is the focal point of his upcoming show at White Walls & Shooting Gallery. We spoke to him a little about this action-packed work:

The Plus: How does Electric Currents and Mortal Wounds compare with your general style?
I would say it is a bit more concise than my general style. I tend to be a maximalist and depict many images within my work. This series is more contained within the subject of fencing. I find the images are still visually maximalist but in a more minimal approach than normal.

TP: What was the most interesting part of the technical process in creating these figures.
My favorite part of the process is when elements of the abstract fit naturally with the representational. Sometimes I try and control and guide this outcome but it turns out best when it happens intuitively. The whole process is quite difficult with the multiple exposure aspect. It can get very confusing trying to render the folds in fabric of four figures overlapping.

TP: Do you have any creative rituals?
I spend much of my time thinking about a piece, sometimes to my own detriment. At a certain point I have to abandon it all and just go for it. “Don’t think, just paint” use to be a major slogan of mine, now my process is a mixture of both critical thought and intuition. Music is a huge part of my process; usually it has to be over headphones as well. I also usually need to be alone, or at least feel like I am. Which is ironic when I paint murals in the public with an audience.

Electric Currents and Mortal Wounds is on view from November 8 through December 7, 2014 at White Walls & Shooting Gallery, San Francisco, CA