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LIU WEI
(Chinese, B. 1965)
Girl, Flower and Bird No. 1
signed in Chinese (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45.6 x 45.6 cm. (18 x 18 in.)
Painted in 1988

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

Lot Essay

People, animals, landscapes are all the same; they all have a soul; that's why I melt them together in my paintings.
- Liu Wei

In 1988-1999 when Liu Wei was studying at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, was influenced by the ongoing momentum of the flourishing arts and culture scene in the Post-Cultural Revolution era and an socio-political opening of China, and a subsequent greater contact with Western art, culture and theories.
While Liu Wei studied Printmaking at the Academy, he explored all avenues of art-making, including ink on paper and oil paintings. Absorbing all the Western art history books and magazines that he could find at that time, he began a journey of self-exploration and developed his very own artistic expression through depictions of everyday scenes.

In Girl, Flower and Bird No. 1 and 2 (Lot 418, 419), his inspiration from Picasso's painting of the Guernica is apparent in the imagery of the distressed horse with a gaping mouth. Depicted with a stark palette of whites, black and red, and the play of strong, dry, sketchy brushstrokes, the paintings bristle with very human emotions that are marked by a juxtaposing naivet? and primitive charm. Birds or doves often appear in his paintings of this period, as well as some Catholic imagery. As such, in Girl, Flower and Bird No. 1 and 2, the female figures seem to receive a stream of fruit from the sky through their bodies or depicted with fruit in hand, and have white birds wings spread across the background.

For Liu, the scene draws associations with Adam and Eve, their fate in the mortal world determine by the consumption of the forbidden fruit. The cherubic, half-formed, suggests an emotional core that is at once vulnerable and juvenile. As in his later paintings, it suggests that our better nature is one full of repressed, unmediated and often embarrassing desires. Indeed, for Liu, even the "natural world" is contagious, and contact with it inevitably unleashes crude haptic realities.

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