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b. 1972, China

Liu Wei Biography

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.

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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

Liu Wei Featured Artworks

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Nudity No.5 by Liu Wei contemporary artwork painting
Liu WeiNudity No.5, 2021Oil on canvas
200 x 180 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
The Wasteland (Sculpture I) by Liu Wei contemporary artwork sculpture
Liu WeiThe Wasteland (Sculpture I), 2019Aluminium, cement, wood, resin, and plaster
127 x 106.7 x 66 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Resurrection No. 1 by Liu Wei contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Liu WeiResurrection No. 1, 2020Oil on canvas
220 x 180 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Nature by Liu Wei contemporary artwork sculpture
Liu WeiNature, 2020Galvanised iron, aluminium alloy, glass steel
400 x 200 x 200 cm
He Art Museum
My Father and Mother by Liu Wei contemporary artwork painting
Liu WeiMy Father and Mother, 1993Oil on canvas
104 x 84 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Wave by Liu Wei contemporary artwork painting
Liu WeiWave, 2005Oil on canvas
200 x 420 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Library V-V by Liu Wei contemporary artwork sculpture
Liu WeiLibrary V-V, 2017–2018Iron, steel, wood, and books
200 x 120 x 120 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled by Liu Wei contemporary artwork painting
Liu WeiUntitled, 2012oil on canvas
180 x 300 cm
Not for sale
Duddell's

Liu Wei Recent Exhibitions

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Liu Wei Represented By

Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in 536 West 22nd Street, New York, USA Lehmann Maupin Beijing, Hong Kong, London, New York, Seoul
White Cube contemporary art gallery in Mason's Yard, London, United Kingdom White Cube Aspen, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris

Liu Wei In Ocula Magazine

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Liu Wei In Related Press

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

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 Reali

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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 17 January 2017, Art Agenda

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 hi

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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 30 November 2016, ARTNews

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 17 November 2016, art agenda

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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Liu Wei In Video & Audio

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