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April 1, 2011

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Daunting installations dominate solo show

YOUNG artist Liu Wei is constructing an entire wooden building inside Minsheng Art Museum, a house that he refuses to give any definition.

Liu is among a rare breed of Chinese artists who execute their style with striking symbols and elements.

"I don't think you can really create anything. Everything already exists. It's just a question of how you see it, from which perspective, good or bad. Or rather, how do you use your own tactics to express it accurately," he says.

Currently at Minsheng museum Liu is presenting "Trilogy," a new exhibition project, through May 3.

The exhibition brings together works created by Liu from the past two years, including large-scale on-site installations, sound installations and oil paintings.

The size of some of his installation work is so daunting that it demands the space of one entire exhibition hall.

"Materiality is my understanding of art: put something here, it is an extremely physical manifestation, something you can feel for yourself. I'm just the intermediary to make you consider it. This is an extremely democratic approach. If I am the one to explain it to you, then I become an entity of power," he explains.

Liu has constructed a huge wooden structure with a familiar Baroque style inside the Minsheng museum.

"The visitors may define it based on their own understanding, such as Baroque or post-colonial," he says. "Actually I hide my original intention for this work. The visitors might find their answer to this particular piece themselves."

Micro politics, the confrontation of body and power, visual expression and limits of power are the issues that Liu takes on in his work.

His work often evolves from the careful observation of the survival technique, space and material objects, alienation and the undercurrents of existence.

"I started to do installations in 1998," he recalls, "because I found canvas was not big enough to reflect my ponderings."

Liu confesses that his inspiration comes when there is something causing problems, something he cannot entirely grasp.

"Some people really enjoy stability in their creation, they are more than equal to the task, like the old masters, everything well thought-out," he notes. "But I am not well-suited to this way of working, I don't find it sufficiently dynamic."

So Liu claims that he feels really nervous even when installing his work on site.

"My work has a close relationship with its environment, sometimes even the height and walls of the space count a lot," he points out. "Sometimes I feel that I am re-creating a piece when it is put in different surroundings. For example, I added some lines on the wall to offset some visual effects of my artwork for this show."

When asked for the link or clue behind these different artworks, Liu gives a simple answer, "Reality."

Date: through May 3 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Address: Building F, 570 Huaihai Rd W.


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