Born in Harbin, China in 1985, Xiao-Yang Li studied graphic design, film-making and photography in Beijing and London. Inspired by the paintings of Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach, Li retrained as an artist, studying Drawing and Painting at the Royal Drawing School followed by an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. Li began exhibiting her art across London in 2012, showing her works at The Castle and Bussey Building.
Li has since exhibited her work extensively around the world including at the Museo Leonora Carrington in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition at the ICA in London and at narrative projects in London. Li's self-portrait was acquired by Ruth Borchard Collection in 2015.
Alongside her work as an artist, Li has also taught at Camden Arts Centre, Bow Arts and the University of Bedfordshire. Throughout her career, Li has been awarded several residencies, including Can Serrat Artist Residencies in Spain, Vermont Studio Residency in the U.S.A. and, most recently, by the Museo Leonora Carrington in Mexico.
Li's work seeks to articulate the mythical and unknown through the process of painting. Much of her painting is figurative, particularly focusing on the representation of the female form. Li is influenced by the statues of antiquity, taking a particular interest in the transformation of the sculptural to the pictorial. In Li's examination of myth, she strives to create a new myth of her own through her artwork.
Li's portrait My 12 Year Old Self taps into a nostalgia for a past self through oil on canvas, articulating the distance between the artist of the present, aged 30 at the time of painting, and the past selves that inform and shape her.