Journalist, press cartoonist, author of many books, Li Kunwu is now recognized in China as the greatest living Chinese cartoonist. He presents his major exhibition "La Chine du Sud au fil du crayon" at the Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage 2019.
In France, he is known for his many comic strips and in particular his trilogy A chinese life, already translated into 15 languages. In China, it is mainly his editorial production and press cartoons that are well known, particularly in southwest China, where he worked for thirty years for the regional daily of Yunnan.
Li Kunwu will be presenting at the “Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage” a major exhibition “La Chine du Sud au fil du crayon“, as well as an unpublished fresco of more than twenty metres on “The Tea and Horse Route“. Present all weekend, Li Kunwu will present his works and his journey to the public and will sign his books, including Travel Book Cuba, published by Vuitton Publishing in 2018.
La Chine du Sud au fil du crayon
Exhibition from 15 to 17 November 2019
Polydome – Clermont-Ferrand
Since 2014, Li Kunwu has been developing a new large-format artistic production with East-West 371, outside the canons of comic strips. After various exhibitions, at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris, in Shanghai with the Michelin Corporate Foundation or more recently (2018) at the FRAC in Clermont-Ferrand, this new exhibition focuses on South China. It includes a set of paintings made in Yunnan, Li’s native province where he still lives today. It allows us to discover the reality of this Southwest China which, located on the steps of the Empire, gathers more than half of the ethnic groups present in China: Miao, Yi, Hani, Lisu, Naxi, Zhuang… so many peoples with longstanding customs who contribute to the particular history of these Chinese margins whose daily life and particularities can be found under Li’s pencil and unusual vision, considered today as one of the greatest contemporary Chinese artists.
The route of tea and horses, a 20-metre fresco to discover
This painting, which stretches over twenty metres, is a reproduction of a huge scroll that Li Kunwu painted over several years. It represents the ancient tea and horse route, a mule path that crossed Yunnan province to connect Burma to central Tibet. It allowed horse caravans to transport bricks or tea cakes over nearly 3,000 km to Tibet, to trade them for yaks, horses, oxen, furs, woolen clothing, musk and medicinal materials. These exchanges would have begun as early as the Tang (618-917) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, when Tibetans discovered Yunnan tea and its virtues, including the famous Pu Er, still very popular today. After the Manchus came to power (1644), the monopoly on tea was lifted, the purchase of war horses decreased and the private trade took over, of the tea, but also of salt, which allowed food to be preserved. This route is also called the “Southwest Silk Road”, 西南丝绸之, an unsatisfactory denomination since silk was not traded there, but which clearly refers to the Silk Road that existed in northern China at the time.