Xiao Yang Li’s work revolves around the concept of craziness and periods of madness in otherwise sane people. Her research looks into the causes of such behaviour and the many different occasions that this ‘release’ is experienced.

To focus and offer herself a kind of persona to style and materialise her thoughts, she created her own character called ‘Madame Zita’. According to Xiao Yang Li this is based upon a German tale of the crazy dancing of Frau Trophie. Mixing this aspect and other expressions of obsessive behaviour the basis of the painting was created.

The image is a riot of colour with bold brush strokes adding depth and movement with the twisted main figure almost un-proportioned hinting at the erratic movements of a dancer lost in her movements.


The painting works in several ways for me, the anonymous nature of the figure, the hint of other figures in the distance creating a sense of depth, but mostly the bold reds and blues and the sense of confusion the painting reflects imbuing movement where none exists.

The other piece she showed us was called ‘The beast and the mistress hires.’



This painting reminded me of a Picasso due to its abstract nature. The colour and profile of the main figure complementing the style and where the viewer is forced to study the image to understand the complexities displayed. The question of whether the gorilla shaped creature is a painting on the wall or a figure looking through a window is left to the viewer to decide with each perspective suggesting narratives of their own.

Xiao Yang Li’s work is interesting and bold. Each is a journey into the complexities of the human mind and each painting propels you into her world where obsessive behaviour is explored in a fascinating way.


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