Saturday, May 18, 2024


Li Qin poses for her Goddess-loving father Li Zhuang Ping

These iconic paintings are by Li Zhuang Ping, a romantic-realist artist born 1948 in Szechuan, China. Though technically flawless, Li's compositions can be said to be mostly derivative, borrowing heavily from the work of well-known European masters like Raphael, Renoir and Velázquez. What has brought this particular collection - popularly known as the "Oriental Goddess" series - to international attention is the fact that Li used his beautiful 23-year-old foster daughter, Li Qin, as his model.

"Qin's perfect form and her natural beauty are what I had in mind for the image of a goddess," Li told an interviewer. "I created the 'Oriental goddess' series with her. She serves as both my model and muse. She inspires as well as lends form to the work. In that sense the paintings are a collaboration between us."

"And, yes, my wife approves," added Mr Li with a smile.

Li Qin, herself an artist, said she began modeling for her foster father five or six years ago, and worked closely with him to create the 'Oriental Goddess' series of oil paintings on canvas which instantly gained notoriety in the Chinese art world.

As to be expected, murmurs of disapproval were soon heard amongst the more conservative. Some critics aver that, while there might be no biological relationship between Li and Qin, the paintings constitute a form of "artistic incest."

My personal take on Li Zhuang Ping's "Oriental Goddess" series? I think the paintings are too kitsch to qualify as "high art" but Li Qin's exceptional beauty certainly deserves to be celebrated. And who better than a doting father (albeit a foster father) to do justice to such distinctive feminine beauty? Transmuting paternal affection, aesthetic ardor and erotic desire into art is the most sublime expression of a father's love I can imagine. What a delightful way to mark the end of the long, dark patriarchal era - when fathers traded off their daughters for social or political advantage, sold them to the highest bidder, intimidated, raped, humiliated, mutilated or impregnated them... or murdered "wayward" daughters to save the "honor" of the family.

Li Qin with her proud and doting grandfather

[First posted 14 March 2009, reposted 16 January 2015 & 16 May 2016]