The painting on offer in today's sale is Purple Air Series IV-2 (Lot 3), completed in 2007, a representative work from this period of the artist's work. Impressive in size, the painting is dominated by skyscrapers, the symbol of the urban city. Bands of exuberant colour are mixed amid the variations of grey that cover the canvas. A gigantic, solitary white sun hangs in the background of the blue-green sky, appearing cold and mechanical. The mirage of the city is portrayed in shuttling, interwoven rows, the ice-cold pixilation precisely conveying the intertwining chaos and vitality of city life, and revealing its rhythm and tenor.
When talking about the Purple Air series, Liu Wei candidly states that the subject of this series is the city of Beijing. "In ancient Chinese, saying that a place has purple air is a way of saying it looks grey and hazy. Really, what it means is that it's full of vitality – it is rife with problems, but it also contains life." Purple Air Series IV-2 shows us Beijing through the artist's eyes – the countless threads that link together in various ways, some real, some not, all presenting at once. As a contemporary witness to China's urbanisation, Liu Wei's conceptual shift has led him to discover the ideal method for capturing and expressing these qualities. This is precisely what makes Purple Air such an important series.
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