Li Lida (1922-1982) was an Asian American painter & calligrapher and Tai Chi master, who lived in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and immigrated to San Francisco in 1968. Lida (as he preferred to be called) was a groundbreaking artist whose vision went well beyond his mastery of traditional Chinese calligraphy. He was an Asian American Abstract Expressionist Calligrapher who integrated western concepts of abstract art with classical calligraphic forms and techniques. His reimagination of Chinese calligraphy, inspired by the spirit of the sixties in San Francisco, was recognized by many curators and art critics and led to numerous solo exhibitions. In his later works, he created “graffiti-calligraphy” paintings of words and phrases, often in multiple languages, imbued with masterful brushstrokes along with the colorful, bold energy and avant-garde spirit of graffiti art.
Lida was also a Tai Chi master. His painting technique utilized Tai Chi movements, and brush and ink became extensions of his body, a style which he termed “Calligraphy in Motion.” He infused “Chi” (spirit or energy) into his paintings and calligraphy to create a unique and powerful form of contemporary art which remains unduplicated to this day.
Lida was a visionary artist, recognized during his lifetime, but now less visible since his untimely death in 1982.