Liu Wei - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Long March Space, Beijing
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, Valentino Haute Couture P/E 2017, January 2017

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present work exhibited during Paris, Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, Valentino Haute Couture P/E 2017, January 2017
    Beyond the Sky Limits No.2 is a prime example of Chinese visual artist Liu Wei's multifaceted and layered practice, which explores the conceptual complexities of the human condition in contemporary urban life.

    The fluid magenta, green and blue brushstrokes of Beyond the Sky Limits No.2 illuminate the canvas with immersive, connected horizons, creating a mesmerising, meditative landscape for spectators. Like a far-reaching sky at dawn or twilight, the work's powerful sense of openness is heightened by the alternately cool muted and warm-hued colour fields that extend onto the industrial wooden frame itself. Playing with the boundaries of the canvas with pre-fabricated material allows the artist to reflect upon the swiftly transforming cityscapes around him and the tumult caused by ongoing collisions between nature and civilisation.

    Yu Youhan
    Abstract Composition, 2008
    Photo courtesy Yallay Gallery

    Wang Guangle
    Coffin paint 140729, 2014
    Photo courtesy Pace Gallery
    Liu Wei's harmoniously-rendered canvas nonetheless evokes a distinctly personal sense of order, rebuffing the uncertain, chaotic influences found in the rapidly transforming urban metropolises around him. Born in Beijing in 1972, Liu Wei came of age during a period of rapid economic development and industrialisation in China. It was a destabilising time for the artist: ‘We grew up when things were constantly changing, and nothing seemed stable. There was a turnaround in values every couple of years…. Today you'd believe in one thing and tomorrow you'd believe in something completely different.’ (Liu Wei quoted in Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews Liu Wei’, The China Interviews, March 2012, online).

    Xu Qu
    Currency Wars-NTD 1000 old, 2015
    Courtesy Almine Rech Gallery

    Gerhard Richter
    Strip 930-2, 2013
    These profound socio-economic changes post-Cultural Revolution encouraged many artists of Liu Wei’s generation to challenge the prevailing tropes and stereotypes of socialist representational painting, forging uniquely Chinese perspectives on abstraction. For example, Yu Youhan’s abstractions incorporate spontaneous gestural marks reminiscent of traditional Chinese ink painting, whilst Wang Guangle’s layered, almost sculptural, Coffin Paint series recalls his hometown custom of elderly people painting a layer of Chinese lacquer onto their coffins once a year in preparation for their deaths. Xu Qu’s electrified geometric abstractions in Currency Wars depict oversized banknotes and watermarks of currencies old and new, a meditation on globalisation and economic uncertainty. As a key figure in this pioneering movement, Liu Wei’s progressive abstract style veers away from explicit references to Chinese cultural identity; instead, he offers up new realities couched in a visual language that is both universal and personal. The perfectly blended horizontal stripes of Beyond the Sky Limits No.2 draw interesting parallels with Gerhard Richter‘s Strip Paintings, a series of digital prints composed of narrow horizontal bands of electric colour, which plunge the viewer in a frantic sense of compression and velocity. Though based almost halfway across the world, Richter speaks to the exact same ‘unquiet’ of modern life as Liu Wei (Gerhard Richter, quoted in Adrian Searle, ‘Gerhard Richter: “Our times are so unquiet”’, The Guardian, 12 October 2014, online).

    Liu Wei's works have been exhibited in prestigious institutions worldwide, including his first US solo show at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2019), and at the Faurschou Foundation, Beijing (2018). Liu Wei's artworks are included in numerous museum collections, including the M+ Sigg Collection in Hong Kong, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Invitations for Liu Wei to exhibit at both the 2005 Venice Biennale and the 2019 edition confirm that the artist's unique influence continues to enrich the development of Chinese abstract art.

Property from a Private European Collection


Beyond the Sky Limits No.2

signed and dated 'Liu Wei [in Chinese and Pinyin] 2012' on the reverse
oil on canvas
220 x 195 cm. (86 5/8 x 76 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2012.

HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for HK$1,375,000

Contact Specialist

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

+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 8 July 2020