Liang Yuanwei - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 23, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Pace, Liang Yuanwei: The Tension between a Bow and an Elephant, 21 March - 26 April 2014

  • Catalogue Essay

    Liang Yuanwei is one of China’s most influential young contemporary artists. Born in Xian in 1977 and based in Beijing, she is best known for her richly textured impasto canvases of intricately flowered cloth, an intimate artistic practice underpinned by her rich knowledge of both Chinese and Western art history.

    A graduate of Beijing’s renowned Central Academy of Fine Arts, Liang was a founding member of N12, a young Chinese art collective dedicated to exploring “all possibilities beyond the rules of the Academy” and motivated by a desire to break away from the rigid traditions of representational painting. Forbidden to study Fine Art by her father, who feared an unpredictable and unhappy life as an artist for her, she graduated instead from the School of Design, an unconventional path which would later prove key to forming her unorthodox approach to art.

    Persuading other students to show her how to stretch a canvas, Liang became a self-taught painter. She was introduced to the radical ideas of the German Fluxus conceptual artist Joseph Beuys in 1995 by some of the Central Academy tutors who had just returned from Berlin. Liang began working with found objects and non-art materials in her developing practice as an installation artist, and grew to realise that the ideas underpinning her work were as important as the media and techniques used. She explained: “Art practice is like building houses, where different people use many different materials and construction methods. My paintings are my own little universe of materials, purposes and techniques” (Liang Yuanwei, quoted in Luise Guest, ‘Between Fear And Trust: The Art Of Liang Yuanwei’, Culture Trip, 29 December 2016, online).

    The evolution of the present work, Untitled 2013.14, can be traced back to Liang’s first solo show, held at Boers-Li Gallery in 2008, where Liang unveiled a cycle of paintings each entitled Piece of Life. Pieces of fabric were collected from friends and relatives, some with a personal significance and others of a deliberately banal nature, for example clothing, furniture, curtains or fabric samples. Working slowly and laboriously in vertical five-centimetre strips - each requiring up to 12 hours of work - Liang painstakingly recreated the colours, patterns and textures of these fabrics. Like fellow N12 artist Wang Guangle, Liang adopts a predominantly conceptual and process-based approach to painting, taking approximately a month to complete each piece.

    Oil paints are applied with alternately delicate and forceful brushwork; thickly-applied layers of paint are scraped and overlaid with contrasting paints to form undulating peaks and valleys across each painting. With a deliberate and controlled sculptural sensibility, Liang constructs layered and textured surfaces that meditate on the nature of process, labour, repetition and chance in artistic creation, a tribute to the Chinese literati painters whose expressive works ‘borrowed’ shapes and forms as means to ‘satisfy the heart’. Liang commented: “In my own creative practice I imitate the world, thereby understanding the world, in order to create the world” (Liang Yuanwei, quoted in the exhibition press release for London, Pace Gallery, Liang Yuanwei: The Tension between a Bow and an Elephant, March – April 2014). Painted after almost a decade of oil painting, Untitled 2013.14 displays a subtle evolution in Liang’s work, with a confidence and complexity in composition and execution. The top half resembles a rich, supple and iridescent brocade, which progresses into darker visual relief at the bottom.

    Akin to the Rudolf Stingel’s iconic series of resplendent silver carpet paintings, Untitled 2013.14’s large scale and visual depth allows it at once to function as a self-reflexive object of reflection as well as a space for reflection. Liang’s paintings speak of the female experience and the unsung labour of generations of women across the East and the West, an homage to the groundbreaking work of women such as the Bauhaus textile artist Anni Albers, who blurred the line between traditionally ‘domestic arts’ such as weaving and contemporary art. Loïc Le Gall, curator at the Centre Pompidou, described Liang’s practice as “penetrated by feelings, combining conceptual rigour with an expression of intimacy” (Liang Yuanwei: Behind the Curtain, exh. cat., K11 Art Foundation and Palazzo Pisani, Venice, 2017, n.p.).

    Liang represented China at the 54th Venice Biennale, in 2011. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing (2008), Beijing Commune (2010 and 2013) and K11 art Foundation Palazzo Pisani, Venice (2017), and her works have also been included in key publications such as ‘Vitamin P2: New Perspectives in Painting’ and ‘The Chinese Art Book’ by Phaidon Press, and ‘The Generational: Younger than Jesus’ by New Museum, New York.


Untitled 2013.14

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'LYW. 2013.14' on the reverse
oil on linen
140 x 120 cm. (55 1/8 x 47 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2013.

HK$1,200,000 - 2,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,250,000

Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019