Although his family hailed from Shanxi, Li Qi (1928-2009) was born in Beijing. In 1937, he joined an opera troupe in Yan'an and received further artistic training. In 1950, he joined the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he started teaching in 1952. Later, he became a professor at the Academy.
Li, who specializes in Chinese painting, received various awards and many of his works have been included in museum collections.