I’ve been keeping my eyes open for contemporary chinese artists whose work I could add to our (small but growing) collection. Liu Hong Wei is an artist that has certainly captured my attention. So much so that I had been hanging out for his solo exhibition here in Hong Kong at the gallery Kwai Fung Hin. I missed the opening, by one day, and all but a few of his oils were already sold. Disappointing, but we did find a lithograph we liked, and now it’s ours!
Liu Hong Wei was born in Beijing and raised in the 1970s – a period of socialist movement in China. Liu’s childhood in China during this period in history has clearly been a significant influence on his work. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time there I can see that his paintings – which are mostly of children playing in very surreal environments, totally unaware of each other – are very realistic in some ways. But it’s the surreality of the scenes that draws you in. Anyone that has read some of my previous posts will know that I am an admirer of surrealist art.
Here’s what the gallery owner has to say about his work:
“Encountering a painting by Liu Hong Wei, one is often struck by an eerie sense that the children depicted in the image, although sharing the same space, never seem to fully interact with one another. Occasionally they may look at a companion, but even these rare contacts appear to lack a true interaction, a warm exchange of silent messages. Rather, the participants of each scene are either engrossed in their own individual machinations or else act as onlookers – cold and distant – observing the teeming activities of those around them. Liu emphasizes this inertness through his monotone palette as well as the geometric, flat shapes he uses to develop his composition – the chessboard floors, the perfectly rounded fruits, the straight edged block buildings. His method of painstakingly applying paint in sharp, thin jabs and short strokes of cross-hatching also adds to this static stillness. The light that washes over Liu’s imaginary worlds is spectral and lends them a disturbing, uncanny charge. The titles Liu gives his canvases – Summer, Weekend, Happy Dining Table, Game at Noon – suggests rambunctious, romping scenes, yet they are solitary, desolate, almost menacing visions. In these bizarre lands of Liu’s imagination the perspectives of mind and space are skewed. The paintings of Liu Hong Wei present surrealism at its most discomfiting.”
This is our new lithograph, which unfortunately we can’t pick up until the exhibition ends. I’ve posted a few extra images below of some of his oils. Enjoy!
“Square Series” lithograph, 2002
“98 Diary – Still Life”, oil on canvas, 1998
“River passing through the castle”, oil on canvas, 2006
“The Green Ceramic Jar”, oil on canvas, 2006
“Swimming Pool”, oil on canvas, 2006