Liu Ye | the artist
The artist Liu Ye
Born 1964, Beijing, China.
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Liu Yes lush canvases, painted in primary colors, reflect the "forbidden" imagery passed down from his father, who was a children's book author during the Cultural Revolution, when political censorship controlled all visual and written materials. Young girls with small bodies and large moon-like faces populate these paintings, schoolgirls dressed in matching green skirts and white blouses and sporting uniform haircuts, and slim, semi-nude women who carry whips which allude to a darker sexual truth behind their youthful façades. According to art historian Pi Li, Liu Yes work implied the arrival of a new era concerned with invidualism and the self. Indeed, in the mid-1990s, when Liu Ye returned from his studies in Europe, China was transitioning into a market economy and these changes manifested themselves in many ways, including increased artistic freedom and a general shift from collectivism to individualism. Liu Yes paintings reflect this changing national legacy with their myriad references to both popular "pulp noir" and classical Chinese landscape traditions. As a result, the richly atmospheric canvases seem nearly timeless, their pictorial language belonging simultaneously to the past, present and future…
In Liu Ye's art, humor and sadness blend into a whole. The stillness of his ironic images provide us with a deep sense of detachment and timeless freedom…
Liu Ye uses a cartoon persona to unsettle the viewer. He does what many fine artists do with mass media imagery; he put it in a high art context through technique and compositional devices…