LIU YE (CHINA, B. 1964)
LIU YE (CHINA, B. 1964)


LIU YE (CHINA, B. 1964)
signed and dated ’99 Liu Ye’, signed again in Chinese (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
38 x 38 cm. (15 x 15 in.)
Painted in 1999
Anon. sale; Christie’s Hong Kong, 24 November 2013, Lot 404
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Private Collection, Asia
Hanmo Art Gallery, Relica. (Exh. Cat) , Beijing, China, 2001 (illustrated, p. 5).
Hatje Cantz, Liu Ye Catalogue Raisonne 1991-2015, Hatje Cantz, Berlin, Germany, 2015 (illustrated, p. 288).
Replica, Hanmo Art Gallery, Beijing, China, 2001


Annie Lee
Annie Lee




In 1990, Liu Ye returned to China from Beijing, his creative urges nourished by fantasies and images of childhood and the elements he had studied in Berlin: industrial design, realism, hyperrealism, and structuralism.

The central character in Girl With Flowers (Lot 126) is an original creation of Liu Ye, evolved from images of self-portraits he painted when in Germany and still bearing traces of the artist's own self-image. Wearing sunglasses and fitted with angel wings, she sticks out her tongue in naughty playfulness with an expression both mysterious and comical. In the most basic and easily understood fashion, this cute, round, childish figure communicates strongly an inner peace and calmness, while at the same time representing a sublimation of the artist's own childhood experiences, a distant echo of the children's books written by his father. In Liu Ye's mind, while a person's body will age and grow old, the only thing that changes is their appearance. Childhood innocence is still the reality of our true inner selves, a lasting, permanent psychological condition.

This circle-within-a-square composition frequently appears in other Liu Ye works. In part deriving from the circular fade-outs at the conclusions of the silent films he loves, it also highlights the way the entire stage is bathed in an extreme and brilliant red light, while displaying the influence of Mondrian, a painter he admires, and his use of geometric and primary-color compositions. The red curtains of the stage allude to the childhood memories of Liu Ye's generation, the political associations of the Cultural Revolution and the use of red in the propaganda images of the authorities. The little girl stands alone in the middle of the stage, holding a large bouquet of flowers indicating approval and praise, or as if she is about to present the flowers. The artist's own experience of stage plays and children's stories, along with timeless and classic aesthetic elements from the history of art, combine to create the tension and theatrical effect of Girl With Flowers.

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