Aug 092008
 

This is where the artist shifts the gears of inspiration from Malevich to Kandinsky: these are much more chaotic, dancing and moving pieces, characteristic of the latter painter. Figurative remnants in the form of flowers and branches suggest that Don Li-Leger wants to create an original synthesis — his own interpretation of Kandinsky’s pure abstract style — a “contamination” of a sort. This is an admirable goal, but it remains questionable whether the artist truly achieves it.

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Summer Bloom
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As a fan of pure abstract art I have to admit that I tend to view these works as a compromise. I am more prepared to judge them as exciting experiments that haven’t quite worked out. The combination of flowers and abstract geometry flourishes in the more austere, Malevich (and maybe Rothko) inspired paintings (such as The Iris Nine Patch, The Poppy Nine Patch and the Aura and Karma pair), possibly because the irregularity of nature complements the squares, producing multi-layered works of art. Here the lines, shapes and forms are endowed with mobility that creates just enough inner tension and interest: the flowers and the branches fall out of the loop as they are no longer needed to perform the thematic task they did in the patches series.

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Spring Chorus
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In fact, they don’t seem to perform any kind of task at all and may appear outright redundant! There is, however, a way to “solve” this “problem” — and it seems that Don Li-Leger is actually moving in this direction: regarding the works as “pastiches” rather than “paintings”. Pastiche seems like a more viable and appropriate genre category; it puts the viewer on a different path, unveils the artwork from a fresh perspective, and gives it a new life. Now there is no need for harmony; on the contrary, the less of it the better. Blossoms assume aesthetic meaning on their own right and the paintings become rich depositories of various stylistic features. Perhaps the artist achieves his synthesis after all.

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