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]

Friday, May 17, 2024

You never know who you might bump into in the Cartoon Universe... (reprise)

You might just stumble across a procession of Oodlies on their way to an art gallery in Melbourne for Joi Murugavell's solo opening on 14 June 2011...

Is this Joi Murugavell? Nope... it's just another one of her infamous Oodlies...

Is this Joi Murugavell? Hmmm... it could be... with a bit too much make-up...

Blame it on Facebook. I randomly clicked on a comment Joi Murugavell left on her brother Vijay Kumar's status - and it led me to her website... where I got zapped with a colorful explosion of sheer creative genius and unmitigated zaniness - and it got my mojo all fired up.

Not since I bumped into Nina Paley at a cartoonists conference back in 1989 have I encountered such a succulent energy field, emanating from such smoochable brainlobes. Who is this entity named Joi Murugavell, I wondered... so I sent her a short message... and after a couple of exchanges, I learnt that Joi was born in Malaysia and, in her early teens, she opted to study in New Zealand, then moved to Australia... and never came back, except on vacation.

She knew of me in one of my earlier incarnations as a cartoonist named Kit Leee and asked if I would agree to be interviewed for How could I say no to such a vibrant and vivacious young lady? She requested that I scan some of my doodles and send them to her, so she could arrange some sort of blind date with her Oodlies.

Well, my random doodles (first published 1994 in Moth Balls, a collection of my "scatological and eschatological" poems) had been gathering dust in my rusty filing cabinet for decades... they literally hadn't seen the light of day since Joi Murugavell was in kindergarten. I imagine as a kid she must have looked just like an Oodlie...

So I spent an entire afternoon scanning a pile of spontaneous sketches (mostly done while chatting on the phone) and rescuing them from analog oblivion. I have absolutely no idea what Joi is going to do with them (for all I know she may be a sadist or an even worse pervert than I am), but nothing terrible can possibly happen in the Cartoon Universe, so why worry about it?

Anyway, the Cartoon Universe is where I'd like to migrate if those destructive dickheads with heavy investments in the so-called "defence industries" decide to blow up planet Earth.

Meanwhile, before Joi Murugavell gets to work digitally mutating my random doodles (or Oodleees, since I went by the name "Leee" in my cartooning days), I'd like to share a small selection with you...

[First posted 15 May 2011]

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Meet Lakshmi, Goddess with Dancing Bedroom Eyes... (repost)

[Brought to my immediate attention by Shreejeiyalachmee Appadorai]

[First posted 3 May 2009, reposted 10 May 2016]