Unlike many of his Chinese contemporaries, Liu Ye's work developed independently of any of the dominant schools, be it Cynical Realism or Political Pop, that developed in the 1990s. During this pivotal period in China's recent history, the artist was completing his studies in Germany and his work stands alone as an individual, personal vision eloquently laced with the political environment intrinsic to his upbringing.
As Romance demonstrates, Liu Ye’s work is in equal measure inspired by his upbringing in China, here represented by the surrounding landscape which is reminiscent of traditional Chinese landscape painting, as his encounters with Western art-history. It has been suggested that The Nutcracker, the fairytale ballet composed by Tchaikovsky in 1891-92, inspired this work. Just as in the ballet where Clara and the Prince travel from reality into the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, in Liu Ye's work too the pair of dancers are set amid a fairytale wonderland. Equally important is the dominant presence of the intense red colour in Romance, which is an important feature in many of the artist’s paintings. Aside from being the colour of love, red is symbolic for Communist China and has associations with anger, danger and bloodshed – but is also a symbol for good luck and success. For Liu Ye the colour is loaded with political connotations, as red is the prevailing memory of his youth in China: "I grew up in a world of red: the red sun, red flags, red scarves, with green pines and sunflowers often supporting the red symbols" (the artist cited by Anna Sansom in 'The Beautiful and the Banned' in Whitewall, Fall 2006, p. 66).
Executed in 2001, Romance stands as a testament to the height of the artist’s creative powers. During this year, Liu Ye would for the first time work on a monumental scale and produce paintings over two meters in width, attesting to a newfound confidence. After a decade of experimentation and refining his artistic voice, his paintings had now been stripped down to powerful, large-scale compositions that immediately captivate the viewer. As the artist explained: “I want to strip away as much of the feeling, narrative and plot as possible and rely on the foundations of the painting like scale, colour scheme and composition” (Liu Ye in conversation with Philip Tinari in: Christoph Noe, Ed., Liu Ye: Catalogue Raisonné 1991-2015, Ostfildern 2015, p. 50).
Depicting a lovingly romantic scene, set to the dramatic backdrop of a stunning sunset above a beautiful Chinese landscape, Romance encapsulates Liu Ye’s distinctive artistic voice, in both aesthetic and subject matter. With its use of the artist’s characteristic crimson red, and executed on a scale that demonstrates the confidence of the artist’s mastery of his medium, Romance is an exceptional example of Liu Ye’s accomplished oeuvre.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale