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Lines of life: exhibition by Li Kunwu 
Pioneer of the Chinese graphic novel

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Shanghai in days gone by

294 x 125 cm

India ink on rice paper, 2023

©Li Kunwu & Est-Ouest 371

From 20 March to 30 May 2024, the Espace Culturel ICICLE in Paris (35 avenue Georges V) is honouring the artist Li Kunwu almost 10 years after his first exhibition in France at the Musée Cernuschi.

Originally from Yunnan, a southern province bordering Vietnam, this self-taught artist was born during the mid-fifties and lived through the turmoil of history, which he recounted in the trilogy A Chinese Life, an autobiographical graphic novel that has been translated around the world.

"Always on the move, Li Kunwu is a voracious observer and a tireless creator. Each of his works brings out the essence of the most ordinary existences, the overflow of life that slips into the interstices of everyday life. He masters and mixes with great freedom all drawing techniques and formats, moving from vignettes to frescoes, to conjure up a teeming, spellbinding world of truly baroque simplicity." (Myriam Kryger, general curator of the ICICLE Paris-Shanghai 2024 artistic programme).

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About Li Kunwu


Born in 1955 in Kunming (Yunnan) in southern China, Li Kunwu is recognised as the greatest Chinese draughtsman of his generation. A journalist, press cartoonist and caricaturist, he has also written a number of graphic novels in China and France. Born into a generation that was unable to follow any academic or artistic training, he taught himself how to draw. He came to graphic novels by happenstance through various encounters, and quickly made a name for himself in France with his famous trilogy A Chinese Life. Translated into some fifteen languages, this impressive graphic work offers a unique perspective on contemporary Chinese history through the prism of Li Kunwu's personal experience, in a striking style underpinned by his mastery of a wide range of artistic techniques: traditional painting, propaganda and press cartoons, caricature, clear line, ink, wash, watercolour, and more.

The Family meal

80 x 80 cm

Indian ink on rice paper, 2021

©Li Kunwu & Est-Ouest 371

Curated by : 

Geneviève Clastres, author, journalist, interpreter and artist's representative

Philippe Pataud Célérier, author, journalist and artist's representative

They founded Est-Ouest 371 in 2015 to develop and promote Li Kunwu's work and artistic production for all its non-cartoon drawing part. With a constantly expanding collection of more than 200 drawings, Est-Ouest 371 has already exhibited Li Kunwu's various works in more than fifteen prestigious venues: Musée Cernuschi (Paris, 2015), the Grand Théâtre d'Angers (2015), the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec (Albi, 2017), the FRAC Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand, 2018), in Shanghai with the Vuitton collection (2018), at Train World (Brussels, 2021)... One of his monumental works was also presented at the Musée Guimet in 2020. In 2018, Est-Ouest 371 published the first major book dedicated to the artist, entitled "Li Kunwu".


An exhibition part of the ICICLE Paris-Shanghai 2024 season 

To mark the 60th anniversary of Franco-Chinese diplomatic relations, ICICLE is presenting a series of eight contemporary art exhibitions between Paris and Shanghai throughout 2024, curated by Myriam Kryger. 

From January to December, four exhibitions, each dedicated to a French artist, will be held at the ICICLE Cultural Centre in Shanghai. This is the first time that a Chinese art venue has devoted an entire year to the French contemporary scene. At the same time, the Espace Culturel ICICLE in Paris is dedicating its entire annual programme to four artists from China.

Ronan Barrot, Benoit Vermander, Li Kunwu, Milène Sanchez, Aïda Kébadian, Szeto Lap, He Xi and Françoise Pétrovitch defy borders, categories and labels. They interweave dream and reality, the intimate and the universal, the strange and the everyday. They all have a penchant for the byways, standing resolutely on the side of poetry and the pulse of life in all its strength and fragility, sharing through their creations the brilliance of the world as much as its enigmatic splendours." (Myriam Kryger, general curator of the ICICLE Paris-Shanghai 2024 artistic programme). 

Icicle Shanghai: Ronan Barrot (January/April), Milène Sanchez (May/August), Aïda Kébadian (September/October), and Françoise Pétrovitch (November/December)

Icicle Paris: Benoît Vermander (January/March), Li Kunwu (March/May), Szeto Lap (June/August) and He Xi (October/November)

On the high plateaux

42 x 42 cm

Indian ink wash


©Li Kunwu & Est-Ouest 371

Find out more: 

Espace culturel ICICLE 

35, avenue George V 

75008 Paris


Monday to Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM

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