Li Jin is known for his unorthodox paintings that merge traditional Chinese brush painting techniques with banal, carnal and intimate scenes. Painted in watery strokes and lush colour palettes, his subjects often possess imperfect bodies, and are captured partaking in private or self-indulgent activities: bathing, drinking or feasting, for instance. Yet, beneath the unabashed expressions of excess, one detects a darker irony and deeper psychological tension in his work.

美人 (Beauty) depicts a woman at the centre of a tight crowd, wherein multi-coloured, animated faces surround her. Multiple hands are planted across her body, triggering a sense of discomfort in viewers—a discomfort embodied in the woman’s expression.

This piece juxtaposes its rather grand title: 美人 (Beauty) evoke a sense of ideal and virtue, but the painted scene expresses messier, uncomfortable realities—in which representations of ‘beauty’, rather than standing out, are consumed and made invisible by crowd.