Liu Ye "Leave Me in the Dark"

Sperone Westwater

poster for Liu Ye "Leave Me in the Dark"

This event has ended.

Sperone Westwater announces an exhibition of paintings by Liu Ye. This is the artist’s second solo show at Sperone Westwater in New York. For this new body of work, Liu Ye continues to engage the history of Modernism in Western art.

The focus of these compositions is a singular young woman, depicted either reading or embarking on a journey. As in "Banned Book 2" (2008), "Reading Girl" (2008) and "Ballet Lesson" (2009), she is centrally placed against a saturated and mostly monochromatic background comprised of shades of grey, slate blue and black. Covered with layers of sheer glazes, these compositions have a contemplative and somewhat solemn tone. Although clearly figurative, the outline of the protagonist’s body and the features of her face have been optimally simplified. Furthermore, in works like "Miss" (2008) and "Leave me in the Dark" (2008), her body is concealed behind a sharply outlined trench coat, skirt, blouse or pair of pants. Positioned next to a square suitcase, rectangular book, or set of wooden toys, the composition is reduced to blocks of color, and geometric abstraction is achieved. Liu Ye suggests a somewhat narrative composition, but he also generates a nearly abstract arrangement that defies simplistic interpretation. In speaking about this development in the catalogue that accompanies this exhibition, the Chinese poet Zhu Zhu writes:

Once your gaze passes through surface boundaries, you can discover what is consistent […]: timelessness, tranquility, and purity – to an extent we could characterize it as a personal mysticism. It resists disorderly representations and the tug of literalism; it attempts to dance in unison with inherent rhythms of the cosmos, to pursue an ultimate spiritual order. […] the abstract has been internalized: it imbues the images that flow from his brush – bamboo, wooden blocks, toys, books, little girls, musicians – with a solidity and distinctness of structure, a melodic contour, which means he has gone past the stage of setting up fairy tale scenarios as a way of dissolving an oppressive reality.

Since Liu Ye’s student days, the work of Vermeer has also influenced his painting. Like many of Vermeer’s famous paintings of women in domestic scenes of middle class life, Liu Ye’s paintings evoke empathy for his female protagonist by reducing the backgrounds to the simplest of forms, with light falling on the figure from an unseen source. Liu Ye’s compositions are portraits in which the subject is depicted as contemplative and intelligent, but like Vermeer, they are also quiet statements of longing, love and admiration.



from November 07, 2009 to December 19, 2009


Liu Ye

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