Li Yuan-chia: Unique Photographs exhibition

Li Yuan-chia is widely regarded as the father of abstract painting in China. After settling in Cumbria, along Hadrian’s Wall, the last two years of his life saw an outpouring of exquisitely beautiful hand-coloured photographs. These are now the focus of the Whitworth’s stunning new exhibition, opening 18 May – 15 December 2019.

Li Yuan-chia: Unique Photographs exhibition

The exhibition

Li Yuan-chia: Unique Photographs opens at the Whitworth, Manchester, 18 May – 15 December 2019.

A founding father of Chinese abstract painting, Li Yuan-chia sought inclusivity and connection throughout all his work. A sculptor, painter and poet - not to mention founder of the LYC Museum and Art Gallery - Li remains one of the most important artists of the 20th century. The exhibition, Li Yuan-chia: Unique Photographs, will focus on his beautifully lyrical hand-painted photographs, many of which have not been seen before, but all of which were poignantly created during the last two years of his life.

Mostly set in autumn and winter, these brightly coloured yet quietly melancholy photographs represent a break-through for Li as an artist, as his diary entries suggest his having sought the right technique, tone and colour for some time.

Browse Li’s pivotal photographs here.
Untitled 1993 Li Yuan Chia

About the artist

After travelling through China, Taiwan and Bologna, Li Yuan-chia eventually settled in Cumbria, in a house on Hadrian’s Wall. Here he founded the LYC Museum and Art Gallery, and it is here that he remained for the last 27-years of his life.

His vision for the LYC Museum and Art Gallery was as space of inclusion and inspiration. His diaries (now held at John Rylands Library Archive, Manchester), refer to it as a space where people could meet, connect and explore their own creativity, rather than remaining mere spectators of art. 

About Artimage

Strong relationships with each of our artists allows us to provide exceptional modern and contemporary art images for you to license and reproduce, while directly supporting the work and livelihoods of those who create them.

Use Li Yuan-chia’s images with Artimage.

About the Whitworth

Part of the University of Manchester, the Whitworth is an art gallery situated in Whitworth park. It recently underwent a £15 million development.

About the Li Yuan-chia Foundation

The Li Yuan-chia Foundation is made up of Nick Sawyer, Guy Brett, Bruce Haines and Diana Yeh, all of who worked with, or were close friends with Li. The Foundation is set up to continue Li’s legacy through exhibitions, projects and partnerships.

With special thanks to Nick Sawyer and the exhibition’s curator, Mary Griffiths, who helped us research this piece.

Images: Untitled, 1990s © Estate of Li Yuan-chia. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2019. Photo: Phil Gammon; Untitled, 1993 © Estate of Li Yuan-chia. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2019. Photo: Phil Gammon.