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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Liu Wei

b. 1972, China

In the multidisciplinary works of Liu Wei, dog toys, books and industrial doors are just a few of his inspirations. His refusal to commit to a specific medium has led him to work in a range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, performance, video and installation. Through his inventive repurposing of everyday objects, Liu distorts our perception of the environment in an attempt to illustrate the impact of urbanisation on modern cities.

Coming of age in the 1990s—a time of rapid urbanisation and ideological instability in China—the transformative power of modernisation has been a long-term interest of Liu's. Rather than focusing on Chinese culture and contemporary life, however, Liu's works often address the effect of urbanisation on a universal level, incorporating objects common to various modern cities. Exotic Lands No. 21 (2013), for example, is comprised of industrial doors and highlights their commercial elements. The abstract, geometric forms in Look! Books (2014) are made of books, while he famously used dog chew toys to construct buildings in Super Structure (2005–2007) and Love It! Bite It! (2005).

Liu's concern with the manipulation of the perception of an environment is especially apparent in Enigma and Puzzle, both completed in 2014. Enigma, shown at his mid-career survey at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015), features resin blocks that obstructed the survey entrance. Compelling the viewer to negotiate their way into the main floor of the exhibition, the monumental blocks metaphorically represented the Eastern region's ever-growing cities. In Puzzle, mirrors of various sizes and irregular geometric shapes overlap one another. Positioned at various angles, the mirrors offer fractured views of the viewer and the gallery architecture. By disturbing an encompassing view of the gallery, Liu suggested that an all-encompassing view of this world is similarly an illusion.

In a conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2015, when asked if titles such as 'Puzzle' and 'Enigma' evaded the viewer's comprehension, Liu explained that the titles were directed at the artist himself, noting, 'It is not that I am not interested in discussions or revealing meanings, it is just that I am with the viewers, in the quest for meaning'. This statement correlates with his non-partisan attitude toward his works; the works state current conditions of the world but do not return a verdict. For Liu, art functions to generate discussions, wherein both the artist and the viewer may freely shape their own understandings of the world.

Since graduating from the National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, in 1996, Liu has exhibited internationally in China, Qatar, South Korea, Europe and the USA. He is familiar with international biennials, having exhibited in Shanghai Biennale (2016, 2010, 2004), La Biennale de Lyon (2015, 2007), Gwangju Biennale (2010), Guangzhou Triennial (2012, 2008, 2005, 2002), and Venice Biennale (2005). In 2015, he also co-curated Nocturnal Friendships for Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong, which featured the works of seven young Chinese artists. Liu currently lives and works in Beijing.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Exotic Lands No. 19 by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiExotic Lands No. 19, 2013 Doors, wood, and stainless steel
199 x 200 x 4 cm
Lehmann Maupin
Exotic Lands No. 15 by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiExotic Lands No. 15, 2013 Doors, wood, and stainless steel
138 x 270 x 4 cm
Lehmann Maupin
Library V-II by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiLibrary V-II, 2015-2018 Books, wood, and iron
82.68 x 86.61 x 74.8 inches
Lehmann Maupin
Ag No. 13 by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiAg No. 13, 2017 oil on canvas
70.87 x 70.87 inches
Lehmann Maupin
Library V-I by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiLibrary V-I, 2008-2015 Books, wood, iron, and hardware
250 x 140 x 145 cm
Lehmann Maupin
The East No. 16 by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiThe East No. 16, 2016 Oil on canvas
70.87 x 457.48 inches
Lehmann Maupin
Transparent Land by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiTransparent Land, 2016 Aluminum, oil paint, oxhide, metal, mirror, canvas, and foam
Lehmann Maupin
Center of the Earth by Liu Wei contemporary artwork Liu WeiCenter of the Earth, 2016 Site specific installation plexiglas and MDF
96 x 558.27 x 235.83 inches
Lehmann Maupin

In Ocula Magazine

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Local to Global: Gallery Weekend Beijing 2018 Ocula Report Local to Global: Gallery Weekend Beijing 2018 13 Apr 2018 : Bowen Li for Ocula

Gallery Weekend Beijing was first staged in 2017 on a number of premises, including the fact that Beijing needed an annual event with international appeal to maintain its place as an art destination after the rise of successful art fairs, and an increasing number of museums, in other regional cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. As its title...

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The Lowdown: shows to see during Gallery Weekend Beijing Ocula Report The Lowdown: shows to see during Gallery Weekend Beijing 16 Mar 2018 : Bowen Li for Ocula

To coincide with the second edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing, taking place between 23 and 30 March 2018, various institutions have brought out the big guns, including a list of international artists from Sarah Morris to Paul McCarthy. Galleries are also gearing up for the weekend, from Liu Wei showing at Long March Space, to Richard Deacon at...

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One belt, one road, one  biennale: Yinchuan's stand against cultural desertification Ocula Report One belt, one road, one biennale: Yinchuan's stand against cultural desertification 1 Nov 2016 : Sam Gaskin for Ocula

Over 70 artists from 33 countries are represented in the inaugural Yinchuan Biennale, which opened amidst scandal on 9 September 2016. Not included is a work by Ai Weiwei, who was invited to take part alongside other art stars Yoko Ono and Anish Kapoor before being disinvited just weeks before the opening.In a tweet, Ai connects the...

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Dr Uli Sigg Ocula Conversation Dr Uli Sigg Collector

When Sydney art dealer Ray Hughes visited Swiss collector Uli Sigg at his Mauensee residence near Lucerne some years ago, a mutual friend asked the dealer how the visit went. ‘Did you feel comfortable and find a place to kick your feet up and read?’ ‘No, to both,’ answered Hughes, ‘it seems there was only art...

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In Related Press

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Three Decades Distilled into 180 Portraits Related Press Three Decades Distilled into 180 Portraits Hyperallergic : 1 June 2018

Liu Wei is a towering figure in Chinese contemporary art, a leader among the first wave of Chinese artists to have their work recognized in the west. Emerging in the early 1990s with the Cynical Realism movement, Liu Wei responded to the dashed hopes and malaise of a generation impacted by the Tiananmen Square massacre by creating sarcastic...

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'Forming in the pupil of an eye,' Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 Related Press 'Forming in the pupil of an eye,' Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 Art Agenda : 17 January 2017

Guest curated by artist Sudarshan Shetty, the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), titled Forming in the pupil of an eye, is an assembly of artist-created realities. Shetty outlines his curatorial concept with the story of a young traveler who went on a long journey to meet a sage. When he reaches her, 'the Sage assimilates the entire...

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NO EXIT: TWO VENUES, TWO VISIONS - LIU WEI TRAPS VIEWERS IS HIS EXISTENTIALIST WORLD Related Press NO EXIT: TWO VENUES, TWO VISIONS - LIU WEI TRAPS VIEWERS IS HIS EXISTENTIALIST WORLD ARTNews : 30 November 2016

Beijing artist Liu Wei is a key player in the rise of abstract art in China, creating installations, paintings, and mixed-media works that have often been interpreted as references to the urban landscape of his home country. In this current two-venue show at Lehmann Maupin in New York, he is addressing not urbanization or globalization per se, but...

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'Why Not Ask Again' 11th Shanghai Biennale Related Press 'Why Not Ask Again' 11th Shanghai Biennale art agenda : 17 November 2016

At the 11th Shanghai Biennale, it isn’t possible to take a photograph without capturing people; the vast Power Station of Art—an electric plant turned kunsthalle since 2012—is busy throughout the preview day and public opening. The curators, Raqs Media Collective, have titled this edition of the biennale Why Not Ask Again:...

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