T o celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sotheby's Asia, we are delighted to present the selling exhibition Liu Guofu: Requiem, featuring a sensational array of 26 compositions by renowned Chinese abstract artist Liu Guofu. Alongside his signature series of paintings – such as Open Space, Empty Cold, Trace, Cold Mountain, Flower and Pervasion – the exhibition also unveils new works exclusively conceived for this occasion. In anticipation of the exhibition, Liu eloquently expressed in an interview with Sotheby's that, “Art, with its profound ability to console our innermost selves, transcends the constraints of reality, embodying nobility and significance.” Curated under the theme, ‘requiem’, this exhibition reverberates with the essence of “soul-soothing” encapsulated within the artist's creations, where the signature aesthetic of “the useless stroke” serves as his distinctive mode of expression. The exhibition will take place at Sotheby's Hong Kong Gallery from 23 August to 8 September 2023, with the artist present at the opening ceremony and art seminar.
“The most important thing about art is that it can contribute to the world something that is insubstantial. Between fantasy and reality, it can offer consolation to the deepest of a man’s soul. Only in abstract form and construction, can the weight of such intangible state be borne.”
Rare Diptych Works
Liu Guofu expertly infuses rhythm and vitality into his artwork Cold Mountain No. 10, painted in his signature hue of dark blue. The artist elucidates, “It represents the blue in your eyes when we gaze upon a sunset, evoking a profound blend of longing and emotions.” Through the format of a diptych, a rarity in his body of works, Liu masterfully captures his profound affinity for the colour blue.
In Liu Guofu's series Flower, the graceful white tones and textured brushstrokes create a rhythmic layering, forming a visually captivating abstract composition. The way Liu layers abstract brushwork transforms the inherent material qualities of oil paint and evoke a captivating fusion of Western watercolour techniques and the rhythmic brushstrokes found in traditional Chinese ink painting. Amidst the translucent petals, the artist constructs a realm of dreams and illusions, spiritual radiance and halos, rhythmic movement, and a profound aesthetic realm brimming with human brilliance.
“Brushstrokes are the embodiment of ideas. Truly meaningful brushstrokes require spiritual support.”
After graduating, Liu Guofu ventured away from Southern China and lived in Xinjiang for several years. It was during this time that Liu experienced a liberating and unrestrained spiritual awakening, which served as the catalyst to the series Open. His life in Xinjiang and his passion for freedom became indirect driving forces for Liu’s paintings created after 2012.
“Every painting needs to be continuously constructed by countless empty brushstrokes. In the constant destruction and reconstruction, what is finally presented is that it is moving and growing. It does not exist in a fixed state, but in a vivid, unknown and mysterious beauty, with a unique state of ambiguity.”
Open and Pervasion are both series created during the same period after 2012. Pervasion emphasises the fusion of light and atmosphere. Liu Guofu believes that light and atmosphere are crucial factors in determining whether a painting possesses a soul. Through Pervasion, one can enter Liu’s spiritual realm of tranquility within the interplay of light and atmosphere, of emptiness and solidity, and between tensions.
Liu Guofu was born in 1964 in Nanjing, and graduated from the Oil Painting Department of the Nanjing Institute of Arts in 1985. He currently lives and works in Nanjing.
His artwork melds motions of light with air. While “light” brings out its depth, “air” helps disperse the “light” to every corner of the work. His symbolic blue-greyish colour is fundamental to his works. Up close, the brushstrokes are chaotic and fragmented, yet from a distance the brushstrokes gather to form a poetic tranquillity.
Liu Guofu has held various major solo exhibitions in Shanghai Art Museum (Shanghai, Today Art Museum (Beijing) and Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum (Nanjing). His paintings were widely collected by private and institutional collectors, such as MGM Chairman’s Collection (Macau), Shanghai Art Museum and Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum (Nanjing).
In 2016, Liu Guofu was honoured by renowned French brand Martell as Martell Artist of the Year in Hong Kong.
24 August - 8 September 2023
Weekdays | 10:00 AM–6:00 PM
Weekends | 11:00 AM–5:00 PM
Sotheby's Hong Kong Gallery
5/F, One Pacific Place, Admiralty