There's a good chance that you have come across Liu Ye's cartoon-like, brightly-colored paintings at an artsy cafe or a boutique shop. The Beijing-born painter is associated with a group of Chinese contemporary artists like Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun, whose works sold for hefty prices in the beginning of this decade. Liu's 'Sword', for example, sold for 33.7 million rmb in 2013.
Liu Ye draws influences from Eastern and Western literature, popular culture, his memory as a son of a children's literature writer, as well as his residency in Germany and Netherlands; Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian is his major inspiration. In this sense, the 100-year-old Rong Zhai offers a nice fit for Liu's art, as the villa itself is a combination of Chinese and European aesthetics.
Subjects include Pinocchio and Miffy, as well as Eileen Chang and Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng. Liu portrays his characters with simple and neat brushstrokes, telling stories about adulthood in a childish manner. Some of his more recent works, though, such as 'Prelude' and the Book Painting series, see the artist returns to his gloomier side.
The paintings are given a lot of space in each room; many are hard to notice. Maybe the curator intends to draw more attention to Rong Zhai’s lavish interiors. Maybe he believes a small piece of Liu Ye’s artwork has enough charm/value to hold up the weight of a whole empty suite.
Liu Ye's Storytelling runs until January 20th. Entry fee is 60rmb. Reserving a time slot via their WeChat (PRADA_OFFICIAL) is required.