Li Shan

1942, Heilongjiang China


A founding member of the Political Pop movement of the 1990s, Li Shan is internationally known for his iconic portraits of a youthful exuberant Mao Zedong set against colourful backdrop, and usually accompanied by a lotus flower. Artists of this genre experienced China’s dramatic transformations and social upheaval during the 1980s and 1990s, recycling images of party propaganda from their youth. Born in 1942 Heilongjiang Province, Li grew up during the rise of the Chinese Communist Party. After studying at Heilongjiang University in 1963 he pursued further studies at the Shanghai Theatre Academy in the Department of Theatre Design in 1964-68 specialising in oil painting. Significantly, during the late 1970s, he became actively involved in the Shanghai contemporary art scene and participated in several exhibitions featuring the new generation of Chinese contemporary artists –what would become known as the 85 New Wave Movement artists. In 1993 his works were featured at the 45th Venice Biennale.

Alisan Fine Arts began representing Li Shan in the 1980s and showcased his work in three important exhibitions at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. First, as part of the landmark group exhibition A State of Transition: Contemporary Painting from Shanghai in 1987. Then in 1994 the gallery organised a solo exhibition of Li’s early pre-political pop artworks, and in 1997 included his paintings in the group show Chinese Abstraction and Beyond.

He has had solo exhibitions at MoCA@Loewen, Singapore, and Museum of Con-temporary Art, Taipei. Important group exhibitions include Inside Out: New Chinese Art a travelling exhibition organised by the Asia Society, New York in 1998-2000; 85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing in 2006. His works have been collected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Fukuoka Asia Art Museum, Japan; Long Museum, Shanghai; Heilongjiang Museum; Shenzhen Art Museum; M+, Hong Kong; Yuz Foundation, Jakarta; Uli Sigg Collection, Switzerland.

Born in Lanxi County, Heilongjiang Province, China
1963   Studies at the University of Heilongjiang, China
1964-68   Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Drama, Arts Department (oil painting), Shanghai, China
1969   Works in a military farm in Zhejiang Province, China
1985-94   Lecturer at the Art Research Institute, Shanghai Academy of Drama, Shanghai, China
Currently living in Shanghai, China

  • Li Shan Solo Exhibition: PSA Collection, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China

  • Extension Expansion, MoCA@Loewen, Singapore
  • Reading Li Shan, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan
  • The Pumpkin Project - Li Shan & Zhang Pingjie Bio-Art Exhibition, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, China
  • The Early Works (1980s) of Shanghai Avant-garde Artist: Li Shan, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Reading, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, China
  • Building the Rouge Empire, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong
  • Shanghai Academy of Drama, Shanghai, China


  • M+ Sigg Collection: From Revolution to Globalisation, Sigg Galleries, M+, Hong Kong

  • Waves and Echoes, A Process of Re-Contemporarization in Chinese Art Circa 1987 Revisited, Inside-Out Art Museum, Beijing, China

  • Future and the Arts: AI, Robotics, Cities, Life - How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

  • The Return of Guests, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
  • Then, White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia

  • Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA

  • The Bond of Arts: Duolun International Contemporary Art Exhibition, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China

  • The Reason Why Classic Is, Artron Art Center, Shenzhen, China

  • Nonfigurative, Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China

  • Shanghai Tang 1979-2009, Shanghai, China
  • Yi Pai - Century Thinking A Contemporary Art Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
  • Accumulations–The Spirit of the East, Asia Art Centre, Beijing, China
  • Blackbridge 08' Contemporary Art Exhibition, Art Gallery Blackbridge, Beijing, China
  • 85 New Wave - The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
  • Strategy on Paper - Works on Paper Invitational Exhibition, Square Gallery of Contemporary Art, Nanjing, China 
  • The Wall-Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, University Buffalo Art Galleries, Buffalo, New York, USA; Millennium Art Museum, Beijing, China
  • Dajia-Studies on Design from Contemporary Art, Museum of Fudan University, Shanghai, China
  • Open Sky: Grand Opening of Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China


  • Paris-Pekin, Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris, France


  • Gallery Artists: Gu WEnda, Wang Tiande, Li Shan, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong


  • Inside Out: New Chinese Art, PS1, Asia Society Galleries, New York; Contemporary Art Centre, Long Island City, New York, USA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, CA, USA; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Monterrey, Mexico; Tacoma Art Museum and the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, USA; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
  • Chinese Abstraction and Beyond, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Art Taipei, Alisan Fine Arts, Taipei World Trade Centre, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 45th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy
  • Chinese Art: Post-1989, Marlborough Gallery, London, UK


  • Begegnung mit den Anderen, Projektgruppe Stoffwechsel, Dokumenta Kassel und Hamm; Munich; Germany


  • 7 Modern Painters from the People's Republic of China, Galerie Werner Melletin, Cologne, Germany
  • Contemporary Chinese Art, China Art Museum, Beijing, China


  • 2nd Concave/Convex Installation Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China


  • A State of Transition: Contemporary Painting From Shanghai, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong


  • 1st Concave/Convex Installation Exhibition: Ding Yi, Li Shan, Yu Youhan, Xuhui Cultural Centre, Shanghai, China
  • Grand Opening Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China


  • Stage '83: Painting Experiments, with Leng Hong, Zhang Jian-Jun, Fudan University, Shanghai, China


  • Painting the Chinese Dream: Chinese Art 30 years after the Revolution, Smith College, Northampton; City Hall, Boston; Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA


  • Yallay Gallery, Hong Kong  

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
Uli Sigg Collection, Switzerland
White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia
Fukuoka Asia Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
Yuz Foundation, Jakarta, Indonisia
Shanghai Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
Long Museum, Shanghai, China
Heilongjiang Museum, Heilongjiang, China 
Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
M+, Hong Kong