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

  • Extension Expansion, MoCA@Loewen, Singapore
  • Reading Li Shan, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Reading Li Shan, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai
  • Reading - Photoworks
  • ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai, China
  • Li Shan: Small new works, ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai
  • Reading, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, China
  • Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Alisan Fine Arts at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong; Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Shanghai Academy of Drama, Shanghai, China


  • Early Abstraction in China
  • Shanghai Art Fair-Special Project, China
  • Shanghai History in Making from 1979 till 2009-curator: Biljana Circ 436 Jumen Rd.
  • Art 40 Basel: Group Exhibition Art Fairs Basel, Switzerland
  • Yi Pai - Century Thinking A Contemporary Art Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
  • CIGE 2009, Art Fair, China World Trade Centre, Beijing, China
  • 2008 FIAC 2008, Grand Palais, Paris, France
  • Shanghai Art Fair, China
  • Accumulations–The Spirit of the East: Group Exhibition, Asia Art Centre, Beijing, China
  • Blackbridge 08' Contemporary Art Exhibition: Group Exhibition, ArtGallery Blackbridge, Beijing, China
  • 2006 The Pumpkin Project - Li Shan & Zhang Pingjie Bio-Art Exhibition: Solo Exhibition, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, China
  • 85 New Wave - The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art: Group Exhibition, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
  • Strategy on Paper - Works on Paper Invitational Exhibition: Group 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
  • 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, China


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


  • Inside Out:  New Chinese Art, 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 Art: Post 1989, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong; Sydney, Australia; New York, U.S.A.
  • 45th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy
  • Chinese Art: Post-1989, Marlborough Gallery, London, Great Britain


  • 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, organised with sculptor Yu Shen, Shanghai, China


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


  • 9th Exhibition of the Japanese Artists Group, Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan


  • 1st Concave/Convex Installation Exhibition, organised with sculptor Yu Shen, Shanghai, China


  • Grand Opening Exhibition at Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China


  • Stage '83: Painting Experiments, Futan University, Shanghai, China


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


  • Yallay Gallery, Hong Kong  

Shenzhen Art Museum, China
Heilongjiang Art Gallery, China
M+, Hong Kong