The Art of Qi Mengli

March 22, 2016 2016年3月22日

At first glance, Qi Mengli’s artwork seems to be only comprised of overtly sexual images. Upon a closer inspection, viewers will discover that sex serves only as a small part of a bigger picture, yet is a necessity for what the work seeks to convey. Her recent project Xiao Ren Shu, tells candid tales about some of the men she has encountered in her life. It is considered to be a very personal piece of work and is presented like a monologue. It explores love and relationships, among many other themes. Born in Nanjing, China, Qi Mengli utilizes the familiarity of her birthplace as the backdrop in Miss Known and Sister Known. These two projects transport the viewers to the sites of some well-known Nanjing landmarks, such as the old Chinese presidential quarters and Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum.


Miss Known is a story about the founding of the Republic of China. Sister Known, on the other hand, has a visual style reminiscent of the music video Ninety-nine Roses, by the famous Chinese singer Samuel Tai. “For example, when someone I meet is giving off a Samuel Tai-style vibe, then that might inspire a story that fits the vibe,” she explains. “The entirety of Xiao Ren Shu follows the traditional comic creation process. But my narrative style is closer to the style of older movies. I like to envision them as old-fashioned music videos.”

《懂姐姐》是关于民国穿越的故事,《懂妹妹》则是受到歌手邰正宵的歌曲《九十九朵玫瑰》MV的启发。谈及创作过程,她说:“比如我遇到的这个角色像邰正宵style,那么我就给他们模拟成那样的故事。”她创作的所有小人书都以传统的连环画形式构成,其叙事上应用了老电影的形式,可以其称之为old-fashioned MV。

Mengli’s work is greatly influenced by the filmmakers Wong Kar-Wai and Tsai Ming-liang. In her comic art, every frame has a cinematic feel instilled in it. That particular style is especially common in Japanese manga and Western comics.


The Xiao Ren Shu series had previously been displayed in an exhibition hosted in the US, but the reception it got didn’t meet Mengli’s expectations. She feels this series mostly contains Chinese influences and themes, and thus would be more suitable for the exhibition to be held in China. She sees the exhibit more fittingly being hosted in an older Chinese building with a historic past; for example, she envisions architecture such as the historic old Shanghai buildings near Yuyuan. Mengli also considers an intimate and artsy café space to be a suitable place to exhibit her work. In the future, she hopes that her collection of picture books can have a spot on bookshelves for interested readers.


Mengli reveals that she is currently working on a series of black-and-white comics, as well as being in the process of turning the Xiao Ren Shu series into a puppet animation. The decision to use puppets is mainly because of her personal interest and childhood nostalgia towards them. She explains, “I loved Afanti when I was a child. The textures and colors in that world are what I seek to recreate with my future animation.”


Similar to Mengli, plenty of other artists in China pay out of their own pocket and publish independently. In doing so, it makes it incredibly difficult for the artists to make any profits. Fortunately, there are now more and more channels from which talented creators can be discovered. Many artists, including Meng Li, believes the future for them will hold a more nurturing environment for their craft. Xiao Ren Shu is now available for purchase in the New York Printed Matter store and select book fairs in the United States.

如同梦莉的做法一样,很多艺术家都选择了独自出版自费印刷。这其中的经济利益是很低的,对于艺术发展也并不良性。好在这些年我们对于这些艺术家的了解方式越来越多,也涌现了很多如戚梦莉一般的优秀艺术家相信往后的创作环境会更好。《小人书》在纽约的Printed Matter等一些外国小众书展已经开始出售。



Contributor: Sonic Yuan



供稿人: Sonic Yuan