Installation view of Li Lihong’s work <em>McDonald’s</em> on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy<br/>

Li Lihong

Photo: courtesy of ART LABOR Gallery and the artist Li Lihong

Li Lihong
China born 1974

Level 1
NGV International
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Li Lihong’s artistic practice is a product of his generation’s social experiences and the clash between sophisticated Chinese art practices and present-day globalisation and mass production. Through the traditions of Jingdezhen ceramics, Li Lihong subverts popular symbols of consumerism, subtly referencing China’s own history of porcelain export and global trade.

Apple melds the universally recognised symbol of computer and electronics company Apple Inc., which entered the Chinese market in 1993, with an overall decoration of brightly coloured flowers known as the ‘One Hundred Flowers’ motif. This motif was popular with the Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799) and symbolised a wish for the Qing empire (1644–1912) to last as long as flowers bloom in the world.

McDonald’s takes the form of the Golden Arches logo of American multinational fast food chain McDonald’s Corporation. McDonalds’s restaurants entered China in the early 1990s, and quickly came to represent the American lifestyle and a new age of modernisation. Today, there are more than 4500 McDonald’s restaurants in mainland China and Hong Kong. Li Lihong shrewdly combines the instantly recognisable yellow branding with historical Chinese symbolism of the colour yellow, which was exclusively reserved for imperial purposes, as well as five-clawed dragons, which were recognised as a symbol of power and heavenly authority.

Li Lihong was born in 1974 in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, which has been the premier place of porcelain production for hundreds of years in China. Li graduated from the Central Academy of Arts & Design in 1996. In 2005 he received his master’s from the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute. Li has been exploring the influence of Western pop art and consumer culture by employing traditional Chinese porcelain. His works reference multinational corporations that have become household names across China in his own lifetime.

Purchased with funds donated by Connie Kimberley and Craig Kimberley OAM, 2022