Liu Ye: Storytelling at Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai, November 10, 2018 – January 20, 2019

“Prada presents Storytelling, a solo show by Chinese painter Liu Ye curated by Udo Kittelmann, with the support of Fondazione Prada. The exhibition project shows the work of Liu Ye through a selection of 30 paintings realized from 1992 onwards. It will take place at Rong Zhai, a 1918 historical residence in Shanghai restored by Prada and reopened in October 2017.

Liu Ye expresses an intimate and sensual imagination, that feeds on heterogeneous sources related to literature, history of art and popular culture from the Western and Eastern hemisphere, giving rise to atmospheres which evoke introspection, purity and suspension. In the artist’s oeuvre the stylistic features of fairy-tales coexist with the sense of humor and a parodic vein.

Referring to his own artistic production, Liu Ye underlined that “every work is my self-portrait”. Combining different elements and sources, his paintings are generated by a plurality of creative forces: memory, observation, imagination and artistic education. All his works are pervaded by a certain ambiguity as they seem suspended between two worlds: reality and invention.

Within the decorated spaces of Prada Rong Zhai, Liu Ye’s enigmatic works acquire a new layer of meaning, engaging a dialogue with the architecture and the unique atmosphere of this historic, early 20th century mansion, which was originally conceived as a place of encounter between European and Chinese traditions.” — Fondazione Prada

Liu Ye. Bird on Bird, 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 22 x 48 cm. Wang Bing Collection, Beijing

Liu Ye. Romeo, 2002. Acrylic on canvas, 65 x 80 cm. Fu Ruide Collection, Netherlands

Liu Ye. Chet Baker, 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm. Private Collection, Beijing

Liu Ye. Miffy Getting Married, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm. Private collection, Berlin

Liu Ye. Book Painting No. 1, 2013. Acrylic on canvas. 30 x 40 cm. Liu Lan Collection, Beijing

Liu Ye. Untitled, 1997-98. Acrylic on canvas, 170 x 200 cm. Private Collection of W. Tanoko, Indonesia

Liu Ye. Mondrian in the Morning, 2000. Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 180 cm. Private Collection, Beijing. Photo: Cao Yong (曹勇)

Liu Ye. Prelude, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm. Private Collection, Beijing. Photo: Cao Yongc (曹勇)

Liu Ye. Book Painting No. 20, (Blossfeldt, Urformen der kunst, verlag Ernst wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 37,5 x 52 cm. Private Collection, Beijing. Photo: Cao Yong (曹勇)

Liu Ye. The Goddess, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45 cm. Private Collection, Beijing. Photo: Cao Yong (曹勇)

As Udo Kittelmann highlights, “I experienced his paintings as sensitive pictorial messages relayed between two worlds that are often viewed as contradictory: Western cultures versus Asian cultures. Even back then, Liu Ye’s paintings struck me as manifesting a dialectical constellation, for his work is not only interwoven in many ways with China’s manifold cultural developments; it also bears witness to a profound knowledge of the history of European culture and painting. His pictures are grounded equally in traditional Eastern and Western intellectual and artistic trends, conjoining the strengths of the past and the future.”

Images courtesy Fondazione Prada.