Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Liu Ye. This is the artist’s second solo show at Sperone Westwater in New York. For this new body of work, Liu Ye continues to engage the history of Modernism in Western art.
The focus of these compositions is a singular young woman, depicted either reading or embarking on a journey. As in Banned Book 2 (2008), Reading Girl (2008) and Ballet Lesson (2009), she is centrally placed against a saturated and mostly monochromatic background comprised of shades of grey, slate blue and black. Covered with layers of sheer glazes, these compositions have a contemplative and somewhat solemn tone. Although clearly figurative, the outline of the protagonist’s body and the features of her face have been optimally simplified. Furthermore, in works like Miss (2008) and Leave me in the Dark (2008), her body is concealed behind a sharply outlined trench coat, skirt, blouse or pair of pants. Positioned next to a square suitcase, rectangular book, or set of wooden toys, the composition is reduced to blocks of color, and geometric abstraction is achieved. Liu Ye suggests a somewhat narrative composition, but he also generates a nearly abstract arrangement that defies simplistic interpretation. In speaking about this development in the catalogue that accompanies this exhibition, the Chinese poet Zhu Zhu writes: