LIU YE (CHINA, B. 1964)
From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot whic… 显示更多
LIU YE (CHINA, B. 1964)


LIU YE (CHINA, B. 1964)
dated '94'; signed in Chinese; signed 'YE' (lower right)
oil and acrylic on canvas
199 x 171 cm. (78 1/2 x 67 1/4 in.)
Painted in 1994
Galerie Taube, Berlin
Private Collection, Berlin
Private Collection, China
Anon. sale, Christie's Hong Kong, 26 November 2006, Lot 384
Anon. sale, Christie’s Hong Kong, 26 November 2011, Lot 1031
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Taube Gallery, Liu Ye: Bilder 1993-1995, Berlin, Germany, 1995 (illustrated, plate 16).
Hatje Cantz, Liu Ye: Catalogue Raisonne 1991-2015, Ostfildern, Germany, 2015 (illustrated, plate 94-07, p. 261).
Berlin, Germany, Galerie Taube, Liu Ye: Bilder 1993-1995, 7 April – 10 June 1995.
From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot which it owns in whole or in part. This is such a lot.


Jessica Hsu
Jessica Hsu


At one end of an empty white room, a man stands in profile and points a gun towards a target beyond the painted plane. Cornered, his only choice is whether to pull the trigger. This suspended moment of climax atmospherically fills the composition with an enigmatic aura, the shadowy vacant room leaving limited clues about time or location. The mysterious setting provokes the viewer's curiosity, leading us to ponder the scene's myriad possibilities. Is the man in the painting a violent aggressor, or merely reacting towards a threat? Is he going to shoot, and if so, at who or what? At the isolated 'edge' of survival, the solitary man confronts the unknown as he launches into a fight for liberation.

Painted in 1994 when Liu Ye was studying at the Berlin University of the Arts, Untitled (Lot 178) showcases Liu's advanced painting skills at an early stage of his artistic career. The stage-like composition in Untitled is a trademark of Liu's artistic oeuvre, and many of his paintings are filled with cryptic allusions and visual riddles for the viewer to solve. For the artist, "(politics) is not of the utmost importance; my interest resides in painterly language and art per se." Liu pays close attention to the treatment of paint and surface, and layers underneath white paint to create an effect of texture and depth.

His compositional devices include simple yet powerful horizontal and vertical lines, and expressionistic drips on the lower portion of the canvas. The clear divisions of space recall the geometry of Mondrian's paintings – one of Liu Ye's favourite artists – and add a subtle element of abstraction into an otherwise figurative piece. The man occupies the lower-left of the composition and leaves three-quarters of the canvas relatively empty, magnifying the intensity of the depicted moment. The translucent white wall with cold shades of pale yellow, grey and blue, juxtaposes against the celadon cement floor and the dark shadow on the right; this stark tonal contrast establishes the dimensionality of real space.

The strange source of bright light that casts the man's deep shadow illogically seems to shine from the shadows on the right. Liu's playful deconstruction on the natural laws of light and shadow further alienates the scene from rational logic and imbues Untitled with an aura of stillness and mystery. Maybe the threat is real, or imaginary; with both legs firmly grounded, the determined man in the painting holds his fate in his own hands, forever frozen in the moment with his finger on the trigger.

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