Skip to contents

The research started from a magical trip to Lijiang, Yunnan province. The excitement from the perfect resonation and rich historical foundation of a lost culture, made me feel the urge to exploit it in my work and build something upon it.

Featured Media

Brave new world

Brave new world

, Jiarui Li

This practice-led research looks at the core division of Naxi Culture - Dongba culture, an ancient, however rather under-studied, Chinese ethnical culture located in Yunnan province, in the southwest of mainland China. The paper will explore Dongba culture through its pictographic language, mythologies, historical and contemporary Dongba painting, as well as religious sculptures. Through both historical and aesthetic lenses, the writing will explore the possible inspiration from Dongba culture, in offering an alternative methodology of interpreting and creating contemporary figurative painting - a methodology that explains the inexplicable, translates the absurd without sabotaging the absurdity and reflects on the emotion instead of simplifying the emotional.

The research will also look at Animism, the core of Dongba religion, Dongba mythologies and the way Dongba (the priest in Dongba religion) manifests those elements into artworks, written pictographic characters, which I found very much resonates with my working methodology. The aim of the practice-led research is not to have a historical investigation of the culture, but through painting and writing, to build an organic combination of the ancient Naxi culture and contemporary painting, as well as a solid theoretical foundation to contextualise a part of original and authentic Chinese culture into the contemporary art world, so as to make it thrive in an accessible, natural and emotional way in today’s world.


Primary supervisor: Andrew Stahl
Secondary supervisors: Neil Jeffries