“I don’t think art is just a matter of creation, because you can’t actually create anything. Everything already exists, so it just depends on how you look at it and treat it.”
Liu Wei was born in Beijing in 1972 and graduated from the China Academy of Fine Arts Faculty of Oil Painting in 1996. The works he creates encompass various media to include paintings, videos, installations and sculptures, and he has gradually become a prominent presence on the international art stage over the course of the last 15 years. His hidden worries over the countless major changes underway in China have muddled his vision and intellect, and his aggregations of lines congeal to form a unique and varied artistic language.
Purple Air Series began in 2006, the aim of Liu Wei‘s unique style is to project an urban landscape bristling with skyscrapers. This is a very popular oeuvre among his repertoire of works. Crisp, two-dimensional images combine with rich colours to convey the overflowing vigour of the city’s orderly pulsations. The present lot Purple Air - with a fully grey tone - is muted cerulean bore flecks of grey, its three-meter width capturing the stalking skyscrapers increasingly crowding the Beijing cityscape. Dark blue and grey combine in soft, deep beauty and the horizontal straight lines in their abstract grid propound a cool logic, while their complementarity induces a harmony with the contrasting center of the picture. The artist shrouds the canvas with a heavy misting, and the lines clustered to the left and right infuse rhythm, rising and falling to an unlimited extent in what seems an act of infinite enlargement. Liu Wei employs painterly traditions such as light and shadow, distance and tonality, and draws these into geometric colour blocks to infuse rationality into the radical urban chaos in a manner that displays a engagement with abstract history. The result is simply quiet yet beautiful.
Just as Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne abandoned the poetry and narrative of classical landscape painting, the function of painting as a means of documenting reality gradually waned in importance following the advent of photography; subjectivity and sensibility became the forces driving art development. Purple Air conveys the artist’s unique observations of and response to the issues and changes in the environment, society, and capitalism in our day. This pondering of the conception, creation, viewing to feeling- which trace back to the same source- produces results that belong both to the creator and the audience. The geometric images appearing repeatedly form a logical, systematic expressive technique replete with a wanton imagination that embodies the perceptual replication of a bygone era.
These sentiments are ironically conveyed through the rational and precise mechanical process of the digital manipulation of landscape images to create new entities of fragmented linear arrangements constituting the composition. This technical process nonetheless requires a deeper knowledge of the relationships subsisting between colours and form which his formal art training bestowed on Liu, but which he independently executes in his works. Under Liu’s instruction, a group of his assistants completes the subsequent colouring of the canvas. Like Damien Hirst and Je f Koons, Liu Wei more resembles an entrepreneur, one who immerses himself in the core of artistic perception and applies a systematic methodology to contemporary art. This approach is unorthodox, yet it corresponds with organizational behaviour in an era of capitalism, and brings it face to face with the highly globalised contemporary art world. Confronted by a complex international system involving art museums, exhibitions, art fairs, art galleries, curators, and publishing houses, it responds with the same simplicity and no superfluous details, and thus its pure pictorial form distills a precise message.