Liu Ye (B. 1964) Hello, Mondrian

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Lot 11
Liu Ye (B. 1964)
Hello, Mondrian

Sold for HK$ 11,652,500 (US$ 1,484,553) inc. premium
Liu Ye (B. 1964)
Hello, Mondrian
2002

signed in Chinese and Pinyin and dated 2002 on the lower right
acrylic on canvas

60.2 x 45.2 cm (23 11/16 x 17 13/16 in)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

    Exhibited
    Beijing, Schoeni Art Gallery, Liu Ye: Red, Yellow, Blue, 2003
    Hong Kong, Schoeni Art Gallery, Liu Ye: Red, Yellow, Blue, 2004

    Literature
    Schoeni Art Gallery, Liu Ye: Red, Yellow, Blue. Edited by M. Schoeni. exh.cat., Hong Kong 2003, p. 42, illustrated in colour
    Gallery 3, Liu Ye: My Own Story, Beijing 2003, p. 122, illustrated in colour
    Christoph Noe, Ed., Liu Ye Catalogue Raisonné 1991-2015, Berlin 2015, p. 304, no. 02-06, illustrated in colour

    劉野
    你好,蒙德里安
    壓克力畫布
    2002年作

    簽名:Liu Ye 野 2002(右下)

    來源
    香港少勵畫廊
    現藏家得自上述來源

    展覽
    「劉野:紅黃藍」,北京少勵畫廊,2003年
    「劉野:紅黃藍」,香港少勵畫廊,2004年

    出版
    《劉野:紅黃藍》,少勵畫廊,香港,2003年,第42頁,彩圖
    《Liu Ye: My Own Story》,Gallery 3,2003年,第122頁,彩圖
    《劉野作品全集1991-2015》,Christoph Noe編著,柏林,2015年,第304頁,02-06號,彩圖

    As one of the most prominent representatives of Chinese contemporary art, Liu Ye's artistic style is steeped in Modernism. His main focus is on exploring the possibility of visual elements such as colours, character modelling, and architectural features in contemporary painting. His works are filled with symbols that have specific meanings — they are concerned with the most fundamental human emotions and the exploration of the intrinsic value of art itself.

    Liu Ye studied abroad in Berlin, Germany in the 1990s. Works created during this European period employ a sombre palette with richly expressive brushwork. They are reminiscent of works by Western masters such as Balthus and Giorgio de Chirico. Upon his return to China in 1995, Liu gradually shifted to a more vibrant palette. The use of highly saturated primary colours of red, yellow, and blue, as well as the adorable character in his artistic language during this period formed the basis of his unique depiction style — this evocative fairytale construct gives voice to the artist's unique worldview. In the early 21st century, Liu Ye underwent another major artistic transformation in terms of subject matter and depiction style — the sailor boy that appeared in his early works was replaced by a wide variety of female characters, such as short-hair girl, female teacher, mermaid, female adolescent angel, and the like.

    The works of Liu Ye straddle both the emotive and the rational with their fairy tales' imageries and philosophical exactitude in execution. Shuttling between these two opposites gives his paintings a whimsical yet composed character. Liu Ye's father was a writer of children's literature, and his fondness for the fantasy realm sowed the seeds in Liu Ye's young mind. The artist considers the land of fairytales his personal refuge where his soul and childhood memories reside. For this reason, the young boy figure is a quintessential motif that frequently appears in his works throughout his career.

    To understand the core of Liu Ye's creative genius, one must first understand Piet Mondrian. The Dutch master of abstraction has become an iconic symbol in Liu Ye's paintings. The reduced yet rigorously executed lines and geometric shapes in Mondrian's compositions deeply inspired Liu Ye and subsequently guided his artistic as well as spiritual pursuits -- it is one of the most important visual elements in his works. Mondrian defines the fundamental objective of abstract art as establishing order and equilibrium. To him, abstraction is a pursuit for a pure state of formalistic aesthetics that banishes any trace of representation. A supremely harmonious composition can be achieved by only using the simplest vertical and, horizontal lines, and the three primary colours. Transcending Mondrian's principles on points, lines, planes, and volume, Liu Ye masterfully constructs compositions that captivate viewers with their atmospheric quietude.

    Completed in 2002, Hello, Mondrian is an exceptional work that exemplifies Liu Ye's artistic vision. The girl in the painting sports a bob haircut with a straight fringe that frames her prominent forehead. Her photogenic round face is highlighted by the rosy blush on her puffy cheeks. The distinct form of the girl's body is composed of Klee-sque geometric shapes. The head is a circle, the limps are rectangles, and the skirt is a trapezoid -- it brings to fore the fact that all things in the universe are made up of basic geometric shapes. In addition, the plain background, the ground line, the book with little rectangular shapes on the cover, as well as the shadow along the left edge of the painting all work in concert to integrate the figure into the geometric whole of the entire picture plane in perfect harmony.

    Liu Ye chose to depict the profile of the girl to accentuate the contour of her silhouette. This treatment harkens back to compositions that portrait masters, such as Botticelli, used during the Renaissance period. By intentionally painting the subject in her profile, Liu Ye guides the viewer's attention to follow her gaze into the shadow and subsequently, the unknown outside of the canvas. The way in which the girl holds the Mondrian book suggests that the artist is a devout follower of geometric abstraction. With this imagery, Liu Ye seems to declare rationality as the cornerstone of his personal artistic development. It is apparent from this analysis that Liu Ye is adept at conjuring atmospheric scenes with compositions, and the little girl is the protagonist in the limelight on a stage set by him.

    Liu Ye is not merely inserting Mondrian's works into his paintings. On the contrary, he is infusing Mondrian's theory on equilibrium and geometric abstraction into his practice. In Hello, Mondrian, the shadow of the girl and the bottom edge of the wall form horizontal lines that resonate with the vertical shadow on the left edge of the painting — a sense of unifying balance is thus achieved. This treatment of using light and shadow to divide the picture geometrically is akin to the manipulation of space in Johannes Vermeer's The Milkmaid. Liu Ye's strong desire for compositional order came from the industrial design training that he received when he was in his teens. Drafting had cultivated a restrained and patient side in his practice. This rational thinking would later manifest itself as the superior sense of precision and attention to detail in his works.

    Other than the geometric format, Liu Ye's love for primary colours was also inspired by Mondrian. The artist recalls his earliest memory of using the primary colours of red, yellow, and blue was when he was drawing as a child: red represents the sun and the flag; yellow represents sunflowers and sunrays; blue represents the sea and the sky. This colour scheme would later be refined and enriched as demonstrated in Hello, Mondrian — as the three primary colours interact with each other and shadows are cast on the forms, more nuanced and denser shades are created. As a result, the flatness of the composition encourages the viewer to indulge in pure colour abstraction. Within the orderly composition, the rich colours are further intensified to create a heightened sense of tension. This powerful undercurrent behind coolness is very much in the vein of Mondrian's ideal of beauty. Both artists champion a sober and rational aesthetic that enhances the pure expressiveness of colours.

    劉野是中國當代藝術界的代表人物之一,他的風格深受現代藝術的熏陶,集中探索顏色、人物和建築等元素在當代繪畫中的發展可能性。劉野的作品充滿明確的符號象徵,極富哲思意味,著力反思人類最基本的情感及探討藝術的純粹性。

    九十年代初,劉野遠赴柏林留學,其「歐洲時期」的作品顏色沉穩,筆觸豐富,令人聯想到巴爾蒂斯(Balthus)、喬治歐· 德· 奇里訶(Giorgio de Chirico)等西方藝術家。1995年回國後,他逐漸奠定可愛鮮明的風格,集中以卡通造型及紅、黃、藍三原色作基調,經由童話世界找到了個人視角。劉野的藝術創作於二十一世紀初出現主題性與風格上的變化,繪畫對象從早期的海軍小男孩變成不同的女性形象,例如短髮女孩、女教師、美人魚、少女小天使等。

    劉野的作品在飽含幻想、感性的童話與嚴謹、理性的哲學兩端游走,畫布上融合出既活潑又冷靜的藝術特色。對劉野而言,童話國度的虛幻元素早在年幼時深植腦海,其父親為兒童文學作家,藝術家視童話為靈魂與兒時回憶的秘密居處,因此他的作品中經常出現標誌性的小孩形象。

    要了解劉野的藝術精神就一定要認識蒙特里安,這位荷蘭抽象大師成為了劉野自己作品裡的一個象徵符號。蒙特里安簡潔嚴謹的筆直線條及平衡四方的構圖深刻影響了他的藝術靈感及精神追求,成爲劉野作品的重要視覺元素。蒙特里安認為:「抽象藝術的首要和基本的規律,是藝術的平衡」,所追求的是一種純粹的形式美,拋去具象形體,以垂直與水平直線間的極簡構圖及原始的三原色達至畫面和諧性。劉野亦巧妙地透過構圖佈局,引領觀者感受箇中寧謐的氣氛,應用和演化了蒙特里安以點、線、面、形來創作空間想像的原則。

    作於2002年的《你好,蒙特里安》是體現了劉野藝術精神的絕佳例子。畫中女孩頂著齊眉瀏海,大大的腦門配以招牌式的圓形臉龐,稍稍鼓起的兩頰透著緋紅,稚氣的輪廓顯出一幅童真相。女孩界綫分明的身體結構重現了克利的幾何元素表現,圓滾的腦袋、長方形的四肢、梯形的裙子等安排,強調了萬物造型都離不開最基本的幾何法則。另外,沒有多餘細節的背景,加上水平地面,書本上的方格,以及畫面左方的長直陰影,進一步跟人物的幾何形態結合,整體上融合成一個完美而和諧的平面世界。

    劉野選擇了側面的人物構圖突出女孩的輪廓線,這種人像處理手法可追溯至文藝復興時期如波提切利等大師的肖像構圖。刻意展示女孩的側面引導了觀眾的視線走到前方那個神秘的陰影,再延續到畫面外的未知之境。女孩手持蒙特里安封面的書本,彷彿強調藝術家本人是如何義無反顧地以理性抽象幾何作為信仰,並立為個人藝術發展的基石。從此作分析,可見劉野是一位極精於以構圖營造氣氛的畫家,而他畫中的女孩,則是一位佇立在舞台燈光下的小主角。

    劉野遠非單純插入蒙特里安的畫作於畫面之中,而是把蒙特里安講求平衡及幾何的畫面切割等視覺理論滲透於自己的創作。在《你好,蒙特里安》,底部的地平線及女孩的陰影,與左側的垂直黑影互相制衡及呼應,形成統一的協調及平衡感。這種利用光影對比將空間切割成幾何結構的做法,與維梅爾在《倒牛奶的女僕》中呈現的空間感如出一轍。劉野對畫面秩序的追求始於少年時期的工業設計訓練,制圖練習培養了他克制、耐心的一面,其理性思維從日後作品中高超的細緻度及準確性充分體現出來。

    除了幾何形式外,劉野對三原色的熱愛亦深受蒙德里安啓發。劉野在自述中提到自己最早對紅、黃、藍三原色的使用始於兒時塗鴉:紅色代表太陽和紅旗,黃色代表向日葵和太陽的光芒,藍色代表大海和藍天。這些色彩形式其後被劉野豐富而細膩的繪畫手法柔化,如《你好,蒙特里安》一作中,畫面隨著這三種顔色之間的微妙變化與陰影而變得濃重,構圖的平面化使人集中沉浸在純色抽象。劉野畫中強烈的顏色在工整的構圖下產生具大張力,這股冷靜背後的暗湧,與蒙德里安的美學追求相通,兩者都強調一種冷峻的理性美感,著力表現色彩的純粹性。

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Liu Ye (B. 1964) Hello, Mondrian
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