Chinese artist Li Li.

St. Moritz Art Masters: homage to the star.

Chinese artist Li Li unveils her painting to commemorate Mercedes-Benz’ 11 million Facebook fans at St. Moritz Art Masters.
  • St. Moritz Art Masters: homage to the star.

  • Alpine residence with “champagne climate”.

    Nestled between sky-reaching mountain vistas and the mirroring Upper Engadin lake landscape lies the exclusive holiday resort, St. Moritz. Despite having a year-round population only marginally greater than 5,000, this chic town has maintained a reputation as an Alpine metropolis – its nonpareil elegance so established that even its dry, sun-rich weather has been dubbed St. Moritz’ “champagne climate”.

    Work in progress: Li Li' painting.
    Li Li in deep concentration.

    A haven of contemporary tradition.

    For centuries, the 28.7 square kilometre town gained the love of leading writers, philosophers and artists. Hermann Hesse, Friedrich Nietzsche and Giovani Sengantini all found refuge here – and even today, St. Moritz exists as a haven of contemporary tradition

    As the snow melts, the city at 1,856 metres above sea level turns to culture, notably in the form of the annual ten-day summer art platform, the St. Moritz Art Masters (SAM).

    The People's republic of China at the SAM.

    The “Walk of Art”.

    Standing for a combination of strong local ties and international exchange, this festival exhibits hundreds of new talents from across the globe as part of the aptly named “Walk of Art”, where artistic works are presented in unusual places in and around town, from churches, to local monuments such as the building used by the natural cure guru Paracelsus, to outdoor settings in the pristine Engadin landscape. Shows in galleries and hotels provide an aesthetic counterpart to the thematic discussions, workshops and “Artist Talks” which explore the theme of a given year.

    Chinese artist Li Li at work.

    Emerging talents from Chongqing.

    In 2013, the SAM festival – which ran from 26 August to 1 September – focused on the People’s Republic of China.

    Emerging talents living and working in the tradition-steeped academy city of Chongqing in the southwest of China were shown next to established artists, such as Ai Weiwei, Tchan Fau-Li (Chen Fuli) and Fang Lijun.

    Chinese artist Li Li at work.

    Human figure in woodcuts.

    The latter’s large-format woodcuts were presented by Mercedes-Benz in the Palace Hotel St. Moritz’ Madonna Room. The nine pieces, produced between 1996 and 2001, offer a clear illustration of the artist’s focus.

    Many times, Fang Lijun has been lauded his ability to capture the human figure in a specific space and context.

    Chinese artist Li Li at work.

    A special stage for the chinese artist-in-residence Li Li.

    This year’s SAM attracted a record 30,000 visitors. To celebrate the last evening on 31 August, visitors were invited to the “Mercedes-Benz Cars Night” at the legendary Dracula nightclub. Throughout the festival, the club had served as hosting venue for all “Artist Talks”. But on that particular evening, it was transformed into a stage for the China-themed party and for the Chinese artist-in-residence, Li Li, to complete her painting to commemorate Mercedes-Benz having passed the eleven million fan milestone on its Facebook page in front of a live audience. “This is my first time here in St. Moritz, and my first time in Europe. I like it very much,” the artist commented on her stay at the SAM festival.

    The brand's logo and the S-Class as foundation for the cartoons.

    Freedom through cartoon painting.

    Li Li belongs to the generation of Chinese artists who have found freedom of expression in cartoon painting. Soft aesthetics meet hard emotions in her pictures as she details her dark humour in pastel tones.

    For Mercedes-Benz, she played on the brand’s recognisable logo and the S-Class, turning pupils and feet of her cartoon figure into the encircled star.

    Chinese artist Li Li at work.

    Another piece in honour of the Facebook-fans.

    With her contribution, the 1982-born artist became the tenth to create a piece for the car manufacturers in honour of their getting a further million likes on Facebook. The expanding series of contemporary works are on display in the Mercedes-Benz Customer Assistance Center (CAC) in Maastricht, the Netherlands, showcasing the brand’s international appeal and drive of all things contemporary.