Li Zijian’s Nanjing Massacre


Fig. 1. Li Zijian, Nanjing Massacre, 1992, 213x290cm, oil on canvas.

I had visited China artist Li Zijian’s art exhibition in Malaysia years ago and was quite impressed by one of his oil paintings – Nanjing Massacre (fig. 1). Li’s work was much influenced by his mentor Master Hsing Yun, a well-known monk based in Taiwan. Most of his works are in realist-style and advocating humanity.

I find his Nanjing Massacre interesting simply because of the theme that he employs – conflict. The title of artwork has explained itself where Japanese troops conducted massive killing in Nanjing during the Sino-Japenese War. The whole painting was combined by three canvases: the left-hand part shows two Japanese soldiers laughing after beheading a number of victims; the center part shows a child crying on a pile of dead bodies in which the child’s destiny is remained unknown and uncertain; contrast to the left-hand part, the right-hand part depicts a monk is saving a survivor from the dead bodies. The idea of conflict reflects through the acts of killing and rescuing.


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