Beyond the Sky Limits

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

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

  • Catalogue Essay

    Prodigious in scale and composed of stacked chromatic hues, Beyond the Sky Limits is a prime example from Liu Wei’s practice that represents the Chinese visual contemporary artist’s move towards total abstraction. With an aesthetically pleasing balance between muted cool and warm tones of purple, blue, grey, orange and pink, the coloured strips blend into each other as they run the width of the canvas and extend onto the industrial wooden frame. Covering the work with luxurious, fluid brushstrokes, Liu Wei imbues the pictorial surface with a luminous dimensionality in which a unique ebb and flow unfolds, demonstrating the possibility of colour in a nonfigurative form. Whilst simple in composition, the artist’s horizontal bands of rich tones are all-encompassing, powerfully dictating the ambience of the artwork’s surroundings as Liu Wei draws upon the tenets of abstraction to transport the viewer into his contemplative painterly sphere.

    Born in Beijing in 1972, Liu Wei came of age during a period of rapid economic reforms in China. As the country underwent vast industrialisation, it experienced the most substantial rate of internal migration in human history. During this period, where “things were constantly changing and nothing seemed stable”, the country witnessed “a turnaround in [social] values every couple of years.” (the artist quoted in Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews Liu Wei’, in The China Interviews, Hong Kong, March 2012, online). Consequently, much of the art created during this time of ideological instability concerns the complexities of the human condition, particularly within the facets of rapidly evolving contemporary urban life.

    After graduating from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1996 as a student of printmaking, Liu Wei quickly became a leading figure in the country’s post-Cultural Revolution art establishment, alongside contemporaries such as Fang Lijun. In his visual explorations of China’s 21st century socio-political concepts, Liu Wei draws from a wide array of influences, ranging from the relationship between humans, nature and urbanisation, to Chinese calligraphy and Expressionism. Primarily reworking found material in his diverse practice that includes paintings, sculptures, photography, and installation art – Liu Wei presents the viewer with unique abstract representations portraying themes relating to China’s rapid transformations, often imbued with a somewhat ironic commentary.

    Executed in 2012, the present work belongs to Liu Wei’s masterful Beyond the Sky Limits series, in which the artist’s sumptuously rendered canvases appear to evoke the beauty and brilliance of our natural world. Whereas the politically explicit undertones typically recognisable in Liu Wei’s oeuvre are not overtly obvious in the present work’s rich strata of tonal variations, his more abstract aesthetic actually represents a deepening of the artist’s earlier ideas. When discussing the evolution of his practice throughout his career, Liu Wei has noted that “all artistic creation is a continuum”, and that he “[continues] with previous themes, but [uses] a new way to express them.” (the artist quoted in E Jane Dickson, “The seismic power of Liu Wei”, Christie’s, 1 May 2019, online). As Liu Wei expands his exploration to the more universal theme of humanity, the present work’s harmonious canvas encourages the viewer to indulge in a meditative, dreamlike state as they engage with the work.

    With an unparalleled painting style that remains highly sought after and revered throughout his career, Liu Wei’s practice exudes an influence that confirms his position in the lexicon of Chinese contemporary art. As well as being exhibited in prestigious organisations worldwide, 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. The invitations for Liu Wei to exhibit at both the 2005 Venice Biennale and the most recent 2019 edition, confirms that the artist’s unique visual attraction continues to enrich the history of abstract art.

  • Catalogue Essay


    劉韡於1972 年在北京出生,成長時期的中國正值經濟的迅速改革,國家經歷大規模工業化,形成人類歷史上最高比例的國內遷徙率。在此時期,「一切都在不斷改變,沒有什麼是穩定的」。國家見證「每兩年就徹底改變的[社會]價值觀。」(藝術家錄於漢斯·烏爾里希·奥布里斯特,<漢斯·烏爾里希·奧布里斯特:與劉韡訪談>,《訪談中國》,香港,2012 年,截自網路)故此,該思想動蕩時期產生的藝術經常與人類狀況的複雜性有關,尤其是面對快速發展的當代都市生活的各個層面。

    劉韡於1996 年畢業於北京中央美術學院版畫專科,隨即與藝術家方力鈞等人成為後文化大革命時期的領軍人物。劉韡對中國二十一世紀社會政治問題的視覺探討中,借鑒來自各方的影響,包括人類、自然和都市化之間的關係、中國書法,以及表現主義。他在作品中重塑一系列來自繪畫、雕塑、攝影和現成物裝置,以獨特的抽象表達方式呈現關於中國急速改革的主題,並為其注入諷刺性評論。

    此畫作於2012 年,屬於劉韡「超越天空的界限」系列作品,該系列著意表達大自然的美麗與光彩,藝術家其他作品中的直率政治色彩在此作並不明顯,豐富層次的色調變化中是越趨抽象的美學,更深入表達了藝術家的早期概念;當劉韡談到他藝術手法發展時講道:「我一直在改變我做的事,當我在某件事上純熟了[…],到了一個再無困難或問題的地步,那時我就開始覺得没路可走了,正是因為已經沒有問題了,它就無生命了,所以我需要轉變到另一種感覺。我希望保持永遠都不穩定的狀態;只有這樣才能保持積極性和活力。」(藝術家之言,杰羅姆·桑斯,<劉韡,訪談>,《對話中國》,2010 年3 月10 日,截自網路)在「超越天空的界限」系列,劉韡把自己的探索擴大至普世的人道價值,當觀者面對此作,和諧的畫面將引導大家進入冥想夢幻般的境界。

    劉韡的繪畫風格別樹一幟,一向受藏家追捧,且備受好評,作品見證其在中國當代藝術的地位。劉韡的作品曾在國際重要機構展出,亦被納入許多博物館館藏,包括香港 M+ 希克收藏、墨爾本維多利亞國家美術館、首爾三星美術館和洛杉磯哈默博物館。劉韡受邀參展2005 年和最近2019 年的威尼斯雙年展,再次證明藝術家在抽象藝術歷史中獨一無二的影響力。

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Liu Wei

Beyond the Sky Limits

signed and dated 'Liu Wei [in Chinese and Pinyin] 2012' on the reverse
oil on linen
251 x 151 x 17 cm. (98 7/8 x 59 1/2 x 6 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2012.

HK$800,000 - 1,000,000 

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019