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

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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.


Beyond the Sky Limits

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

HK$800,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for HK$1,625,000

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019