Wei Liu (b. 1965)
LIU WEI (Chinese, B. 1965)

Portrait (Apollinaire)

LIU WEI (Chinese, B. 1965)
Portrait (Apollinaire)
signed in Chinese; signed 'Liu Wei' in Pinyin; dated '2001' (lower middle)
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm. (35 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2001
Red Bridge Gallery, Liu Wei, Shanghai, China, 2008 (illustrated, p. 135).
Paris, France, Loft Gallery, Liu Weis Solo Exhibition, 2001.

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Lot Essay

In 2001 Liu Wei was going to hold a solo exhibition at Loft Gallery in Paris when a highly controversial poet and art critic fell upon his radar. This person was Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918). Credited with inventing "Calligramme", also known as visual poetry (poetry in which typography and layout adds to the overall effect), as well as vehemently advocating Cubist paintings, Apollinaire, a veritable avant-garde start, shined like a fleeting lightning-bolt across European literature and art world. In a seemingly violent way, Liu Wei's Portrait (Apollinaire) (Lot 518) brings out the characteristics of the subject in order to accentuate his historical importance. The face of the subject is rendered with precision, and one can still identify the facial features despite the melting flesh of the face. The blurriness documents the lapse of time, and the heroic portrait composition seems to have emphatically reminded the viewers of the extraordinary talent of Apollinaire.
As Liu Wei said, the painting bombards the eyeballs of the viewers. Expressionist in his approach, Liu Wei engaged in a dialogue with the subject, as well as with the viewers, while integrating a characteristically playfulness of the artist. Like Apollinaire, Liu Wei maintains a sense of scrupulousness under the disguise of the mischievousness, and in presenting a seemingly lurid optical experience he uses incisive brushstrokes to expose the vile and arrogance of the reality.

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