Liu Wei: Colors Ullens Center for Contemporary Art By: Fiona He
Liu Wei translates his environment into simple yet concise forms by using the most precise materials to make his point. On entering, visitors have to navigate through the engulfing Enigma (all works 2014), a constellation of towering geometric forms covered in folded military or transportation canvases. As visitors find their way to the spherical shapes at its center, a giant screen of fluctuating colors, titled Shapeshifting, plays off of the digitally planned landscape paintings executed in oil vertically and horizontally lining the walls.
The artist’s discerning choice of materials and configurations allows for a straightforward understanding of his intentions. In Love It, Bite It No.3, displayed in the lobby, unidentified specimens of Western architecture made of ox hide are collapsed on the ground as an embodiment of the fragility of dominant ideology and power, while Look! Books features printed materials carved and compressed into random shapes that undermine the difference between looking and reading. For the work Puzzle, mirrors are scattered throughout the center of the main hall at slanted angles, which conjures a world reflected and deflected.
The monumentality of each work emphasizes an environment’s ubiquity and dominance in individuals’ experiences. Regardless of whether we consider Liu Wei’s pieces abstractions, the space for imagination that the artist allows in his perfect translations of reality to formally appealing works of art outweighs the classifications of genre.