Red, Yellow, Blue Oil on canvas, triptych, framed Each signed in Chinese and English and dated 2002 45 x 180 cm. (17 11/16 x 70 7/8 in). Each 45 x 60 cm. (17 11/16 x 23 5/8 in). (3).
Provenance: Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Exhibited: 'Liu Ye:Red Yellow Blue', Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong, 8 January to 14 January 2004
Published: Hilary Binks, Liu Ye: Red Yellow Blue, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong, 2004, p. 40-41
This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and issued by Schoeni Art Gallery.
劉野 紅、黃、藍 油彩畫布 鏡框（三聯作） 二〇〇二年作
簽名：2002 野 Liu Ye
來源： 香港少勵畫廊 現藏家購自上述畫廊
Liu Ye is one of the most important artists on the contemporary Chinese art scene. His aesthetics and motives are completely unique and stand out from the ones of his contemporaries. He is seen by the younger generation of Chinese artists as the 'father' of the cartoon movement. There is a wealth of influences that led him to develop the series of works representing children and including Mondrian paintings.
The artist acknowledges the visual culture of cartoons, and the inspiration he drew notably from the films of Hayao Miyasaki and the drawings of Dick Bruna. The style he constructed results from blending many aspects of his personal experiences. Liu Ye grew up under the Cultural Revolution and was exposed to propaganda images, which colour schemes, according to him, plays a part in this series of works. The realm of fairy tales was omnipresent, through his father's work, an author of children books, and his collection of Chinese and foreign fairy tales books.
Liu Ye's passion and artistic skills were expressed from an early age on. As a child he would sequester himself and draw to master his emotions or deal with a situation. He maintains his attitude still; through his choice of topics, he deliberately distances himself from current events. This distance gives access to a more objective perspective. It allows the artist to focus on more profound, less fleeting subjects, such as human emotions. Liu Ye's works are suspended in time and space, they are not directly related to reality but rather to the artist's personal experience of the times. During the 1989 events, Liu Ye was studying in Germany; he was not affected in the same way as his contemporaries. There are no "collective images" in his paintings. Individualism was then developing in China; Liu Ye was exploring it, his works focused on the self and its psyche. The artist feels a sense of duty in rendering basic human feelings. They are infused with the enjoyment of art, his own and that of the viewer. His works focus on the visual experience, not on representation, hence the presence of Mondrian's paintings in Liu Ye's. Objects, characters are present as parts of a composition that is staged. There is a sense of absurdity, of comedy in his works. His paintings create a space open for interpretation, between the familiar and the disturbing, between fantasy and an abstracted reality. Because of the presence of these objects the viewer feels an intimacy, however tension, even as a tease, is looming.
The iconic motif of Mondrian's paintings inside Liu Ye's paintings, goes beyond homage and the simple citation of the famous Western painter. On the one hand, Mondrian's paintings are included in Liu Ye's works in light of the serenity that derives from their purity and abstraction. On the other, to the artist they also evoke an ecstatic pain coming from the very act of tracing design, an ambivalence Liu Ye experienced when training in industrial design. Technical design was difficult to achieve, but its machine-like perfection, its serene austerity was rewarding. According to Liu Ye, this technique is aligned with Mondrian's works to illustrate the control of passion.
Liu Ye's works originate in a blend of his imaginative childhood and the rationality of his training as a teenager. Objects and characters are part of his visual realm and memories. Balance of composition is at the core of his work and he also finds a graceful balance and purity in Mondrian's works. For Liu Ye, a true achievement is to render something in which the essence is highly elaborate in the simplest of (visual) languages. Growing up, his favorite coloured pencils were the three primary colours this work is titled after: Red, Yellow and Blue. The respective connotations of these colours were the sun and national flag for red, sunflower and sunlight for yellow and ocean and sky for blue. Red can also be associated with blood and the girl holding a knife is a clear reminder of that. In the yellow painting the girl is pointing at something outside of the painting, maybe to the girl in the red work, and in the last piece, in blue, the girl seems to be lost in contemplation, not of the Mondrian though. Girls depicted from behind are also a common feature of Liu Ye's works, just like girls holding swords or knives or other potentially harmful objects, such as a whip.
This triptych is highly representative of the artist's works. This work was exhibited at Schoeni Art Gallery in Beijing in 2003 and in Liu Ye's first solo show in Hong Kong, also at Schoeni Art Gallery, in 2004. In the gallery publication, titled Red, Yellow and Blue, the artist stated "I have an equal passion for fairy tales and philosophy".
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