Liu Ye - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Tuesday, June 21, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  •  “A secret tension that has always troubled and motivated Liu [is] his fondness for narrative versus incorporated abstraction, a duality that has formed the thread of his work since the 1990s.”
    — Zhu Zhu

    Chinese artist Liu Ye is known for his nuanced approach when rendering the painted image. His methodical and balanced compositions reference a diverse range of art historical, cultural, and personal sources, bringing about works that transcend time and space, evoking distinct conceptual and emotional perceptions.


    Synthesising fantasy and reality, Boy With Red Glass was painted in 1998, a pivotal style defining period in the artist’s career. Having returned to Beijing in the mid-1990s from Berlin, Liu took some time adjusting to the changes that took place in China throughout his absence. During this time, the economic development that was going on led to tremendous societal and psychological changes amongst the people, and these coincided with Liu’s explorations of his own creative visual repertoire.

    “I grew up in a world that was covered up in red — the red sun, the red flag and red scarves.”
    — Liu Ye

    Depicted in this work is a world steeped in red, a colour that has layers of meanings to Liu: a hue associated with his childhood, a unique Chinese symbol referencing Communist China in a modern time gone-by. The present work depicts a scene rendered from behind a red lens, featuring a glimpse of a young boy, possibly a sailor– one of Liu’s widely recognised avatars of his whimsical and tongue-in-cheek fairy tale paintings. He is holding a piece of tinted red glass, through which a flagship that is passing by in the distance can be seen. The placement of the glass is right in the centre of the ship, simultaneously the centre of the work. This square-on-square composition immediately recalls Liu’s fascination with the work by renowned Dutch modernist painter Piet Mondrian. Liu’s continuous dialogue with Mondrian’s artistic approach can be seen here fused with his own. The subtle reference of using a red square glass as a composition-dividing device, creating “a view within a view” illusion, transports the viewer into an altered reality.


     Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow, 1930
    Collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich


    Liu Ye was born in Beijing in 1964. He studied mural painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and industrial design at the School of Arts and Crafts, both in Beijing, before studying at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. His work has been extensively exhibited around the world and held in numerous public collections. In 2018, Liu held Storytelling, a solo exhibition at Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai that featured a selection of his works from 1992 onwards. Museum shows include Mondrian and Liu Ye at Mondriaanhuis, Amersfoort (2016), and Window on China at Kunstmuseum Bern (2007). His work was also included in Viva Arte Viva, the International Art Exhibition of the 57th Venice Biennale, 2017. His latest solo show titled Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, took place at David Zwirner New York from 29 October —19 December 2020

    • Provenance

      Galerie Serieuze Zaken, Amsterdam
      Private Collection
      Christie's, London, 1 July 2008, lot 365
      Private Collection
      Christie's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2010, lot 1217
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Literature

      Christoph Noe, ed., Liu Ye: Catalogue Raisonné 1991-2015, Berlin, 2015, no. 98-21, pp. 113, 285 (illustrated)


Boy With Red Glass

signed and dated ''98 liuye' on the overlap
acrylic on canvas
22 x 29 cm. (8 5/8 x 11 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1998.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,800,000 - 4,800,000 

Sold for HK$3,276,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 21 June 2022