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By the River

  Chen Li,  By the River , oil on linen canvas, 60cm x 51cm

Chen Li, By the River, oil on linen canvas, 60cm x 51cm

This painting of the river Longchangiang by the Chinese contemporary artist Chen Li (1971 - ), is perhaps best described by the words of Langston Hughes, a 20th century American jazz-poet, writer and social activist (1902-1967). Chen Li grew up on this river, its rocky shores and the mountainous landscape of his native Yunnan every bit a part of his soul, like the collective soul of which Hughes speaks. I always feel magic when art transcends contextualisation, culture, and time, perhaps even the artist him or herself.

I've known rivers:

I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the

flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy

bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks Of Rivers