A Beijing artist is selling paintings of McDonald's icons for as much as US$4,000 (HK$31,000) each at an exhibition in the capital. Li Qiang said he chose the McDonald's theme because the fast food chain best represents the global influence of American culture and the US economy. He paints the trademark yellow arches, Big Macs and flying Ronald McDonalds alongside Buddhist icons and portraits of Chinese. Ten of his 14 oil paintings on display at the city's Qin Gallery draw on images from restaurant chain, selling for between US$1,000 and US$4,000. Other works combine Disney cartoon characters with impressions from revolutionary China, which Li calls statements of China's changing culture. 'China is not communist any more,' Li said before his 13-day showing at the gallery, adding he never eats at McDonald's. He said he had previously exhibited McDonald's theme art in a German furniture store. A McDonald's spokeswoman in Beijing said company officials did not know about the exhibition and could not comment on whether it saw it as a trademark violation or extra publicity. McDonald's has opened more than 100 restaurants in China since 1990. An executive with another Beijing gallery said she had not heard of Li but suspected the paintings, especially those that mixed Chinese and Western symbols, were overpriced and aimed at foreign buyers. Li, 41, who graduated from the China Central Fine Arts Academy in 1987, said he had altered portraits of Mao Zedong in past exhibitions. 'He focuses on changes in society,' said Qin Gallery executive director Zhang Qiuying. 'Since the reforms and open-market policies, there has been a big change in life, and these paintings show these kinds of changes.'