Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)
Liu Wei: Colors
7 February–17 April, 2015
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu
From 7 Feburary to 17 April, 2015, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is proud to present LiuWei: Colors, a spotlight on one of the most important artists working in China today. Refusing the standard model of the mid-career survey, Liu Wei (b. 1972, Beijing) shows an entirely new body of works, in various media and materials that span the full range of his broad practice. Paintings, sculptures, and architectural-scale installations are presented in UCCA’s Great Hall, organized spatially into an immersive environment that simultaneously contains and is physically structured by these diverse works. The exhibition marks a turning point, reducing Liu Wei’s formal language to its most direct and expanding it into a presentation both focused and sprawling.
Having come of age professionally in the heady period of rapid urbanization and artistic flourishing that preceded the Beijing Olympics, Liu Wei is heavily influenced by the instability and fluctuation peculiar to 21st-century China, in particular with respect to its physical and intellectual landscape. Along with his fellow members of the late-1990s “Post-Sense Sensibility” formation, including Qiu Zhijie, Yang Fudong, Chu Yun, and Xu Zhen, Liu Wei has an acute haptic sensitivity stemming from a period when exhibition space for contemporary art in China’s major cities was still scarce. The artists of this coterie began their careers showing in basements, unfinished shopping malls, and other non-traditional venues; from these experiences Liu Wei derived an aptitude for manipulating spatial awareness, often toward a maximally disorienting and affective visual impact. His UCCA presentation explores this idea in its intricately sprawling layout, with artworks variously forming labyrinthian paths, overwhelming monoliths, and cathedral-like chambers within the gallery.
Liu Wei’s art draws on a wide range of formal references, including urban planning, commodity culture, fashion, architecture, technology, and biology. As UCCA Director Philip Tinari notes, “Present throughout Liu Wei’s practice is a unique sense of how juxtapositions of objects and materials create meanings, and of how objects placed in space structure viewers’ experiences.” In many places inside the exhibition, Liu Wei strips down the familiar and reassembles its incongruous parts in ways uncanny and abstract. His adaptations of readymade objects—sheet metal siding reconfigured into geometric patterns as in Crucifixion, oxhide dog chews mended into an iconic tower as in Love It, Bite It No. 3, mirrored surfaces assembled into an installation evoking an urban cluster as in Puzzle—pursue purely aesthetic propositions even as they reveal the slightest traces of their industrial origins.
In these as in many other works across a wide range of mediums, Liu Wei: Colors highlights a specific trend in the artist’s recent practice—the stripping away of direct referents and baroque architectural elements, reducing his artworks to an almost radical formal purity unprecedented in his career.
Liu Wei: Colors is curated by UCCA Director Philip Tinari with Assistant Curator Guo Xi and includes three lectures and a workshop as part of UCCA’s Public Programs initiative. Please visit the UCCA website for more information. The exhibition is supported by the Liu Wei Leadership Circle: Long March Space, Lehmann Maupin New York Hong Kong, and White Cube. CP and WTi Group are the new media art production partner. Chronus Art Center is the new media art partner. The exhibition publication is supported by the H2 Foundation for Arts and Education Limited. The exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual catalogue published in China by Hinabook. Liu Wei: Colors is open to the public 7 February to 17 April.