LIU YE (B. 1964)
LIU YE (B. 1964)
LIU YE (B. 1964)
LIU YE (B. 1964)
3 更多
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … 显示更多 Property from a European Private Collection
LIU YE (B. 1964)

The Goddess

LIU YE (B. 1964)
The Goddess
signed, titled and dated 'The Goddess 2018 YE'; signed and titled in Chinese 'The Goddess Ye' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
23 5/8 x 17 3/4in. (60.1 x 45cm.)
Painted in 2018
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2018.
F. Tenaglia, 'Quiet Life: Liu Ye', in Mousse Magazine, issue 67, Spring 2019, p. 165 (illustrated in colour, p. 164).
A. Premoli, 'Fiori, libri e femmine d’acciaio. Liu Ye in mostra a Milano', in Artribune, 1 February 2020 (illustrated in colour).
Shanghai, Prada Rong Zhai, Storytelling: Liu Ye, 2018-2020, p. 28 (illustrated in colour, p. 29). This exhibition later travelled to Milan, Fondazione Prada.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.


Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Evening Sale


An icon of contemporary Chinese art, The Goddess stands among Liu Ye's most celebrated works. Painted in 2018, it featured in the artist's major exhibition at the Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai, that year, subsequently travelling to the Fondazione Prada in Milan. From a deep midnight blue background emerges the Chinese silent film star Ruan Lingyu, her face veiled by a screen of smoke. Her lips glow bright red against the darkness, matching the burning embers of the cigarette in her hand. The painting takes its title from the celebrated 1934 film that represents Ruan’s best-known work. The following year, the young actress would tragically take her own life at the age of just twenty-four, driven to suicide by relentless tabloid scrutiny. Echoing Andy Warhol’s depictions of Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor, Ruan has become a recurring subject for Liu, taking her place within his cast of celebrated Chinese women. Reflecting the artist’s love of cinema and storytelling, the work also demonstrates the dialogue between Eastern and Western culture that fuels his practice, replete with echoes of Vermeer, Balthus and German Expressionism.

Born in Beijing in 1964, Liu grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution. His father, a children’s author, introduced him to books including Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, Anna Karenina and Chinese novels such as Journey to the West and Water Margin. As a child Liu absorbed these stories and their illustrations. He went on to attend art school in Beijing, studying industrial design at the School of Arts and Crafts and mural painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts during the 1980s. Much of the following decade was spent in Europe, as a student at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and subsequently as artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. During this period, Liu’s artistic language began to take shape, drawing together influences from his travels with memories from his childhood. Crisp, seductive and refined, his paintings offer enigmatic scenes, populated by recurring references and talismans: from Old Master paintings to the works of Piet Mondrian, to Dick Bruna’s beloved cartoon character Miffy and figures from popular culture. Each is conceived as a self-portrait of sorts: a record of emotion, composed like a snapshot from a film.

Warhol himself took his place within Liu’s pantheon, notably featuring in the 1991 painting Atelier alongside one of his Mao portraits. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Liu’s portraits of female Chinese celebrities share something of the Pop artist’s aesthetic. Alongside the feminist writer Eileen Chang and the singer Zhou Xuan, Ruan became a significant subject, appearing in a total of five works. She was one of the most famous actresses of her day, defining the boom of Chinese cinema in Shanghai during the 1920s and ’30s. The Goddess, which told the story of a single mother forced into prostitution, was widely hailed as a masterpiece. It was Ruan’s next film, however—New Women—which brought her notoriety, exposing her mercilessly to the tabloids who dug deep into the details of her private life. Her suicide prompted a public outpouring of grief, with three women taking their lives over the course of her three-mile funeral procession, and the eminent Chinese writer Lu Xun publicly condemning the actions of the press. Here, in Liu’s imagining, Ruan embodies both power and vulnerability: as she disappears behind a screen of smoke, her red lips remain firmly closed, their secrets sealed in the mists of time.

更多来自 二十及二十一世纪艺术:伦敦晚间拍卖