Great Performances This exhibition provided a new perspective of contemporary Chinese art. Through various forms of art, including video, photography, installation, painting, etc., artists represented the uncertainty in the minds of the Chinese people over the rapid advancement and development of Chinese society. "Role playing", or the use of body language in art, became popular as the idea of self-identity began to develop further in China. Self-identity began to emerge in the 1990s. This is where the idea of performance art comes into play. Curator Leng Lin says, "in such a compressed age, our 'performances' have been irrefutably passionate. 'Real' and 'surreal', it is a great performance."
Li was also heavily influenced by a book series known as the "old photo craze" (lao zhaopian re) published during contemporary China. The books were published by Shandong Pictorial Press, founded in 1994, and the first three issues became instant blockbusters in the mass book market. A total of three hundred thousand copies were printed of each of the three issues, and two hundred and forty thousand copies were printed for the fourth and final issue. These four issues were published within a single year from December 1996 to October 1997 and sold more than 1.2 million copies altogether. This made the series one of the most popular publications in post-Cultural Revolution China. This caused many artists, including Li, to become interested in representing history and memory during the post-Cultural Revolution era.
Li graduated from the Subsidiary School of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) located in Beijing in 1996 and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in oil painting from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He was one of the first Chinese artists to establish a studio in the 798 Arts District of Beijing in 2002. Li is known as a history Painter because he bases his work on a wide range of Chinese history, with an emphasis on modern Chinese history He uses images primarily from newspapers, magazines, the internet, book, and film stills. Despite this heavy use of political images, Li does not consider himself a political Artist. His deconstruction of the images removes bias and invites interpretation. His favorite Artist, however, is politically outspoken Ai Weiwei. He has been called a member of China's "in-between" generation. This is because Li, born into a well-placed military family, was too young to have experienced life under Mao Zedong but old enough to remember the Tiananmen Square uprising, which occurred while he was attending China's CAFA-affiliated high school.
His paintings recreate public resource images of modern Chinese history, such as the National People's Congress. Li works on large scale canvases with oil paint. Li Songsong's painting The Decameron sold for $273,600 US Dollars at Christie's auction house in 2006.
Abstract This was a solo exhibition at Pace Beijing. It included 16 paintings executed with Li's characteristic patchwork style and depicting dangerous situations involving planes. These include Peach Garden (2008), named after the Taipei Taoyuan (literally "Peach Garden"), showing a group of people crowded around an empty plane of a pilot who defected to Taiwan around the 1980s. A related piece, Betrayer (2008), depicts a pilot raising his hands in victory after landing. Finally, two other works, Oxygen Mask (2009) and Life Raft (2009), are both based on images taken from an airline safety brochure. These works collectively express the hidden dangers that come with the freedom of FLIGHT. Six Men (2008), depicting Japanese Kamikaze pilots, and Public Enemy (2008), loosely based on a newspaper photo of Yang Jia who allegedly killed several police officers after being accused and tortured over stealing a bicycle, were two other pieces included in the exhibit.
This exhibition included his famous Pig Years painting (2010). This painting is 12 feet high completed with a variety of colors. It spans four separate panels, each with overlapping smaller panels, which are attached together by aluminum plates. The painting appears abstract up close, but comes together to reveal a pile of pigs when viewed from a distance.
Li designed the poster for this year's (2012) Spoleto Festival USA. The festival involves musical and theatrical offerings. The poster, titled Beast, was inspired by a photograph but was altered with Li's style of multiple layers of paint and sections. The work invites interpretation and was a unique choice for the show because the posters chosen in the past have traditionally been bold and brightly colored. The two abstract figures in the poster can be interpreted to be connected with the subject of the festival, as one of the opera productions "Feng Yi Ting" by Chinese Composer Guo Wenging. The opera involves seduction and murder that ultimately saves an empire.
New World Order – Contemporary Installation Art and Photography from China, Groningen Museum, Groningen, Holland
"He's a member of China's 'in-between' generation — too young to have directly witnessed life under Mao, but old enough to remember the Tiananmen Square uprising — which sets him apart both from his older peers who lived through the Cultural Revolution and from younger colleagues who have known only relative openness and growing international awareness of China's experimental art scene."