Liu Ye announced as first Chinese artist to be represented by David Zwirner since Asia Expansion

Sara Foster

David Zwirner announced yesterday that his gallery will add Beijing-born artist Liu Ye to its roster, making Liu the first Chinese artist represented by Zwirner since unveiling its Asia expansion in 2015 and opening its Hong Kong space in 2018. The gallery is set to show Liu’s work at Art Basel Hong Kong this year and in a solo show in New York in 2020. 

Liu Ye. Photo by Shen Siyuan, courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner,  Artsy.

Liu Ye. Photo by Shen Siyuan, courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, Artsy.

Born in Beijing in 1964, Liu studied mural painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and industrial design at Beijing’s School of Arts and Crafts before going on to study at Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste. Liu then spent six years in Europe including a six-month residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Widely exhibited in Asia, he set an auction record of $5.5 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2013 for Sword (2001-02), an image reminiscent of Song dynasty landscape paintings with its depiction of trees and bold red background. 

Zwirner’s announcement follows a monumental year for Liu, who recently exhibited at the Prada Rong Zhai, the historical residence in Shanghai’s Jing’an District that Prada meticulously restored as an exhibition space. “Liu’s work has seldom been shown in the United States,” said Zwirner, “we are so excited to share his distinct vision with a broader audience.” With a global reputation on the rise, Liu’s addition to Zwirner’s roster will be an invigorating move for both artist and gallery. Liu told The Art Newspaper, “I believe the collaboration with David Zwirner can bring a new kind of energy to me.”

Liu Ye,  Sword,  2001-02, oil and acrylic on canvas, Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York.

Liu Ye, Sword, 2001-02, oil and acrylic on canvas, Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York.

Unique integrations of Eastern and Western imagery, Liu’s paintings display a clear influence of Western art and architecture – infused with elements of early Renaissance painters, and with traces of Van Eyck, Vermeer, Klee, and Mondrian – alongside visual references to Chinese traditions. The images often play on fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Anderson, depicting young children and the Dutch cartoon character Miffy the Bunny. The multifaceted nature of Liu’s works, and their measured and harmonious compositions, contribute to their wide appeal. “Liu’s richly layered paintings,” Zwirner says, “are as equally engaged in a dialogue with art history as they are with contemporary painting and sculpture.” 

Liu Ye,  Little Finger,  2000, oil on canvas, Triumph Art Space, Beijing.

Liu Ye, Little Finger, 2000, oil on canvas, Triumph Art Space, Beijing.

Having previously shown in New York at the Sperone Westwater gallery, Liu believes Zwirner’s New York space will bring a new feel to his works in the 2020 solo exhibition. “The space is filled with a kind of slow and classic atmosphere, and I really like its sense of temperature and intimacy,” Liu says. With a roster mostly comprised of American and European artists, Zwirner joins other New York based galleries such as Gladstone, Gagosian, and White Cube, who have been focused on adding Asian artists to their rosters as they increase their presence in Asia. Prior to the expansion in Hong Kong, Zwirner represented Shanghai-born, Paris-based artist Yan Pei Ming, Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama and On Kaware, and Korean-born Yung Hyong-keun. 

 

Bibliography

Movius, Lisa. 'Liu Ye announced as David Zwirner's first Chinese artist following gallery's Hong Kong expansion', theartnewspaper.com, https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/liu-ye-becomes-david-zwirner-s-first-chinese-artist-following-gallery-s-hong-kong-expansion (accessed March 13, 2019)

Freeman, Nate. 'David Zwirner will represent Liu Ye, who is the gallery's first Chinese artist', artsy.net, https://www.artsy.net/news/artsy-editorial-david-zwirner-will-represent-liu-ye-gallerys-first-chinese-artist (accessed March 13, 2019) 

Kinsella, Eileen. 'Lui Ye, a Chinese Artist Whose Paintings of Children Reference Western Art History, Will Now Be Represented by David Zwirner', artnet.com, https://news.artnet.com/art-world/zwirner-gallery-will-represent-liu-ye-1487113 (accessed March 13, 2019)

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