This week, we’re bringing you a profile on He Li, a sophomore in TD.
Tell us about yourself: I was born in Beijing, China, and I moved to the United States when I was eight years old. I’ve spent most of my time here in Queens, New York.
If I had to pick, ancient history, American music, and old cars are probably my greatest passions in life other than painting.
Major: Intended History major focusing on Classical antiquity
Influences: Writings by the likes of Cicero, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome have had immeasurable influence on the way I think. Other than these philosophical influences, artists of the Early Renaissance and 20th Century Modernist period are probably my greatest inspirations. My favorites are Piero della Francesca, Vittore Carpaccio, and Jan van Eyck. More recent painters such as Edward Hopper and Giorgio de Chirico have been crucial to the formation of my pieces too. I think there is a kind of otherworldliness that is common to the works of all I’ve just mentioned.
How would you describe the focus of your work?: Above all else, my focus in art is to capture a certain essence. I can’t describe this essence in writing, because I would be a writer if I could do so. I have experienced some success, however, in infusing it into my paintings. If I had to choose a word to describe it, I would call it “divine,” since it does not seem to correspond to anything in our mundane day-to-day existence. Cicero wrote that one should always fix his eyes upon the stars rather than the Earth, since all human affairs are ephemeral. I am quite convinced that he feels the same kind of essence that I am referring to. I intend to express this essence through Midcentury Golden Age American imagery, since I grew up among the ruins of this bygone time.