The paintings of Liu Ye are works of considerable paradox and sophistication. His ironic fairytales provide a mirror to the evolving world of post- Mao China, its effect on the consciousness of the artist and on his generation; at the same time, his colourful, delicately balanced compositions reveal the contemplative spirit of the artist, steeped in art history, his idiosyncratic intellectual tastes and obsessions - his love of Piet Mondrian, Hans Christian Anderson, Dick Bruna's Miffy, to name a few - as his muse and his chess pieces.
Having studied first in the Netherlands, followed by several years in Germany, Liu produced a number of rich and intimate canvases, populated by self-portraits as both adult and child, as well as by friends, patrons, and artistic influences. In Yuan Yuan, Liu invents a quiet scene with intense vibrant colours and a cartoon-like caricature of a young girl. Her whimsical poise brings joy and austerity, and at the same time, an abstracted emotional intensity. While the stark profile portrait format recalls the spatial sense of Northern Renaissance and Dutch portraiture depicting the papal court and aristocracy, the two dimensional composition with large sections of bold colours evokes the visual effects in Mark Rothko's pure-colour abstract paintings. Through the image, the artist reappraises the idea of childhood and innocence while toying with the possibilities and implications of coming in dialogue with Western art history, juxtaposing different aesthetic principles to create one that fuses the past with the present into an utterly new aesthetic vocabulary.