Liu Ye's artistic style is featured by conveying profound philosophy of life and art through simple expressions and the pure abstract nature of colour field painting. Through Liu Ye's unique artistic expression, Mondrian, Dick Bruna and I (Lot 34) provides the viewer with an opportunity to explore the insightful and metaphysical nature of art as well as to experience the artist's most sincere inner self.
The distinct artistic quality of this piece is one that through self-portrait - the most honest and direct method of expression - along with the great respect, Liu Ye pays homage to two artists who have had influence on his artistic career: Piet Mondrian and Dick Bruna. Liu Ye's admiration towards them is well stored in the heavily-layered canvas with pictorial meanings that can be taken apart like an exquisite Russian matryoshka doll. The overlapping spaces link all the objects in the composition: Liu Ye, Piet Mondrian, Dick Bruna and Miffy together as a balanced entity. At this very moment, we, while standing in front of Liu Ye's painting, also experience the perfect fusion of Piet Mondrian, Dick Bruna, their works and himself.
Liu Ye uses smooth and simple lines to depict the symbolic figurative elements in this painting. These soft-edged glimmering geometric figures transform into free thoughts floating above the canvas. The geometric pattern pieced up in the painting projects the employment and evolution of Mondrian's principle of creating spatial imagination via geometry, and also conceals Liu Ye's prudent contemplation on space and composition. Liu Ye built a binary relation of painting inside of painting and audience staring at another audience. On the upper right corner of the wall, one sees a drawing of Miffy appreciating Mondrian's work which echoes perfectly with the rectangular desk and his self-portrait, thus creating a spatial contrast between the foreground and background. The image also bears similarities with an actual window, presenting a three-dimensional exhibition space from which the audience can quietly observe Miffy - designed by Dick Bruna - gazing at the work of Mondrian right in front of her.
With a balanced treatment of composition, colour tones and light, Liu Ye successfully create a harmonious atmosphere. By choosing a large scale canvas which he almost rarely uses, Liu emphasized the significance of this painting. Constructed within a simple two dimensional composition, a strong contrast between the serenity of blue and vibrant yellow bring upon an intense stimuli, one that is reminiscent of the visual effects brought along by Mark Rothko's pure-colour abstract paintings. Liu's use of colour reckons with his status of mind at that time: yellow for joy and inspiration while blue for modesty in front of his favorite artists.
Though the painting revolves around yellow and blue, palette swifts gradually following the subtle variation of light and shadow. This not only reflects the artist's mental status but also presents a stage-like lighting effect to further emphasize the figure that is apparently lost in meditation. This bears similarities with The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Dutch master Rembrandt, in which the variation of colour casts a dramatic lighting on the students' concentrated faces.
In accordance to Liu Ye's consistent unique style, the detail in Dick Bruna and I provides the audience with various kinds of clues in interpreting his artistic concepts. The enamel flower cup on the desk - just like the water of life - implies the significant inspiration source of his artistic career. The broad yellow desk accentuates a gap between the viewer and the center figure, suggesting that the artist is neither friendly nor aloof towards the outside world, concurrently delivering a creed of life: keeping a certain distance is good for an independent mind.