With its complex, systematic composition of digital lines and geometric patterns, works of Liu Wei always create the powerful impression of a city, evoking in the spectator a feeling of being in the midst of a bustling urban environment. A work from his well-known series Purple Air, will be offered as part of Christie’s +86 First Open auction. In the this series, Liu transplants the urban face of Beijing on the canvas through digital techniques and a powerful imagination.
Left: Another piece in the Purple Air series. Right: Liu Wei's artworks are composed of digital lines and geometric patterns.
Liu Wei is based in Beijing, and the location of his workshop is as difficult to find as his paintings are complex. We start on foot from a nearby apartment block, passing under a raised motorway bridge and following one of two roads until we come to a junction…… and at last we reach our destination. Ushered inside by his studio assistant, we enter a veritable Aladdin's Cave.
The expansive workshop is composed of several separate areas, dedicated to painting, sculpture and an office space. In the centre of the office is a pool table and hanging on the wall another work from the Purple Air series. Next to that is an illustration of Star Wars, sketched by Liu’s 8 year old son. It definitely adds a humorous twist to the space.
As a simple lunch was prepared for us, Liu Wei arrives and greets us. He mentions frequently that we are free to partake in a cup of coffee. We feel welcomed by the friendliness of the artist.
Liu Wei taking part in filming for a video for the +86 First Open.
Liu Wei’s paintings depict architecture and urban life. According to the artist this is not a theme that he deliberately sets out to explore, rather he does so because buildings and cities are the blueprint of human existence.During the filming of the video, Liu Wei discuss with his assistants details of a sculpture made of wood, books and metal. He works across a range of media, including painting, installation, sculpture and film. Liu Wei describes his creative process to us in a simple way. His goal in creating a piece is the same regardless of the medium he works in—the understanding of reality through knowledge.
He explains “different forms such as sculpture, video and film can be applied for the same theme. It’s a question of finding the most suitable medium. The same content is then being fine-tuned when applying in different mediums. It’s much like how one uses painting to refashion one's own feelings.’
Liu Wei at work.
Liu Wei describes himself as a “pure” artist and he further clarifies on it. “I do not care about the mindsets of other people. I only want to make each work distinctive and unique. Try not to compromise because of other people. This is what I mean by "mindset". Art is about creating something different to what has been done before and to create something new. There has been all kinds of cross-disciplinary experimentation and experimentation through marrying different philosophies and ways of thinking. Artists are continually pushing the boundaries of art. Every artist is a thinker.’
Every artist is a thinker. Liu Wei also talks about the complex connecting threads that link artists of different periods, and the fact that while different generations of artists will experience different upbringings, there is a very close link between them. ‘Artists today make reference to the artists from the past,’ he says.Yet, the digital has become an indispensable part of life in today's world. In his art, Liu Wei solves all the difficulties and problems involved with painting through the computer. ‘With the computer, it’s more about choice and less about creating, and this means it feels more real, because life is about constant choice. Everything is about making a choice and that is more difficult than creating. It is interesting work.