Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower | David Zwirner
A detail from a painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 21 (Karl Blossfeldt, The Complete Published Work, Taschen GMBH, 2017), dated 2018.

Liu Ye

The Book and the Flower

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by the Chinese artist Liu Ye, on view at the gallery’s 34 East 69th Street location, in New York. The show marks the artist’s debut solo presentation with the gallery.

 

Liu Ye is known for deeply meditative paintings that investigate ways of seeing in their nuanced approach to the painted image. His carefully balanced, methodical compositions subtly combine figuration and abstraction and reference a diverse range of aesthetic, literary, art historical, and cultural sources, resulting in works that appear to transcend time and place in their evocation of distinct conceptual and emotional registers of meaning. On view will be a selection of new works from the artist’s Flower, Book Painting, and Banned Book series, which together demonstrate the artist’s singular approach to painting.

 

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Image: Liu Ye, Book Painting No.20 (Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), 2017 (detail)

 

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Dates
October 29December 19, 2020
Artist

“Liu Ye's pictures are… not intended for the specific moment; their effect is not calculated on the here and now. Instead, they seek a temporal continuum.”

—Udo Kittelman, “Some Thoughts, Imagings, Remarks and Keynotes on Liu Ye's Painting,” in Liu Ye: Storytelling, 2018

An installation view of an exhibition titled Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

 

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

 

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

“Suppose that a certain person looks at the cover of a book, resting his gaze on it for years. He does not open it.… Later he gives in and turns the cover himself, but only as far as page one. Suppose that years pass before more of the pages are finally turned, and that this whole process takes up twenty-five years of his days and nights. All of this actually happened in the case of Liu Ye. Of course, it happened in his painting: a protracted, slow-motion process employing the mastery patiently acquired by effort or luck, and then gravitating toward a weightless state: the weightlessness of the system of images, the weightlessness of the system of language.”

—Zhu Zhu, “Reading at the Limit,” in Liu Ye: The Book Paintings, 2020

“The beauty of a book—not just the inside, but the outside, too—is very important to me.” 

—Liu Ye

A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No.20 (Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), dated2017.

Liu Ye, Book Painting No.20 (Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), 2017

Liu Ye, Book Painting No.20 (Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), 2017

“A secret tension that has always troubled and motivated Liu [is] his fondness for narrative versus incorporated abstraction, a duality that has formed the thread of his work since the 1990s.”

—Zhu Zhu, “Reading at the Limit,” 2020

A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 6, dated 2014 to 2015.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 6, 2014-2015
Acrylic on canvas
9 7/8 x 15 3/4 inches
25 x 40 cm
Framed: 10 5/8 x 16 1/2 inches
27 x 41.9 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 15 (Lolita, The Olympia Press, 1955, Page 13), dated 2017.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 15 (Lolita, The Olympia Press, 1955, Page 13), 2017
Acrylic on canvas
10 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches
26.8 x 16.6 cm
Framed: 11 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches
28.6 x 18.4 cm

“Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer who left an indelible mark on the medium with the publication of his book Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature) in 1928…. He systematically photographed his specimens in extreme close-up against a neutral background, revealing the elementary beauty and diversity of nature in a way that had never been seen before.”

—Udo Kittelman, “Some Thoughts, Imagings, Remarks and Keynotes on Liu Ye's Painting”, 2018

A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 26 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 115), dated 2019.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 26 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 115), 2019
Acrylic on canvas
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
32.5 x 24 cm
Framed: 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches
34.9 x 26 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 24 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 61), dated 2019.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 24 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 61), 2019
Acrylic on canvas
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
32.5 x 24 cm
Framed: 13 5/8 x 10 1/8 inches
34.6 x 25.7 cm

“I think the flower subject is a challenge if you’re a painter.... [These are] paintings of flowers, but not still lifes. They are paintings of [Karl] Blossfeldt’s flowers. I got a vintage book of his photographs. They are so beautiful, very simple in form. I loved them immediately. So my eye is like a camera, and the brush in my hand is like a copy machine.”

—Liu Ye

"I’ll paint the flower in normal light and then paint it again in dark light. All the details of the relationship have changed, and I have only my eyes and hands to capture them. It’s kind of an intensive game."

—Liu Ye

A painting by Liu Ye, titled Flower No. 3, dated 2013 to 2020.

Liu Ye

Flower No. 3, 2013-2020
Acrylic on canvas mounted on wooden panel
23 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches
60 x 40 cm
Framed: 24 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches
62 x 42 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 21 (Karl Blossfeldt, The Complete Published Work, Taschen GMBH, 2017), dated 2018.

Liu Ye, Book Painting No. 21 (Karl Blossfeldt, The Complete Published Work, Taschen GMBH, 2017), 2018

Liu Ye, Book Painting No. 21 (Karl Blossfeldt, The Complete Published Work, Taschen GMBH, 2017), 2018

“Looking at Liu Ye's pictures and getting to the bottom of their "stories" always means at the same time trying not to obstruct the flow of pleasure and adventure they provide.”

—Udo Kittelman, “Some Thoughts, Imagings, Remarks and Keynotes on Liu Ye's Painting”, 2018

“Without realizing it, Liu seems to have brought about on canvas what Walter Benjamin dreamed of doing: to write a book consisting wholly of quotations. What is more, he has done it while bringing new life to the domain of painting.”

—Zhu Zhu, “Reading at the Limit,” 2020

An installation view of an exhibition titled Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

An installation view of an exhibition titled Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Liu Ye: The Book and the Flower, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

A painting by Liu Ye, titled Banned Book No. 5 (Balthus Variation), dated 2019 to 2020.

Liu Ye

Banned Book No. 5 (Balthus Variation), 2019-2020
Acrylic on canvas mounted on wooden panel
31 1/2 x 39 3/8 inches
80 x 100 cm
Framed: 32 5/8 x 40 1/2 inches
83 x 103 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 15 (Lolita, The Olympia Press, 1955, Page 13), dated 2017.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 15 (Lolita, The Olympia Press, 1955, Page 13), 2017
Acrylic on canvas
10 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches
26.8 x 16.6 cm
Framed: 11 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches
28.6 x 18.4 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No.20 (Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), dated 2017.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No.20 (Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth GMBH, Berlin, 1936), 2017
Acrylic on canvas
14 3/4 x 20 1/2 inches
37.5 x 52 cm
Framed: 15 1/2 x 21 1/4 inches
39.5 x 54 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 25 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 113), dated 2019.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 25 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 113), 2019
Acrylic on canvas
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
32.5 x 24 cm
Framed: 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches
34.9 x 26 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 24 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 61), dated 2019.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 24 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 61), 2019
Acrylic on canvas
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
32.5 x 24 cm
Framed: 13 5/8 x 10 1/8 inches
34.6 x 25.7 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Flower No. 3, dated 2013 to 2020.

Liu Ye

Flower No. 3, 2013-2020
Acrylic on canvas mounted on wooden panel
23 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches
60 x 40 cm
Framed: 24 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches
62 x 42 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 26 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 115), dated 2019.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 26 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 115), 2019
Acrylic on canvas
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
32.5 x 24 cm
Framed: 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches
34.9 x 26 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 23 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 49), dated 2019.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 23 (Karl Blossfeldt, Wunder in der Natur, H. Schmidt & C. Gruenter, Leipzig, 1942, Page 49), 2019
Acrylic on canvas
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
32.4 x 24.1 cm
Framed: 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches
34.9 x 26 cm
An acrylic painting on canvas by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 21 (Karl Blossfeldt, The Complete Published Work, Taschen GMBH, 2017), dated 2018.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 21 (Karl Blossfeldt, The Complete Published Work, Taschen GMBH, 2017), 2018
Acrylic on canvas
11 x 14 1/8 inches
28 x 36 cm
Framed: 11 3/4 x 15 inches
29.8 x 38.1 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 28 (ON KAWARA, One Million Years, Two volumes, Produced and published in 1999 by Editions Micheline Szwajcer & Michele Didier), dated 2020.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 28 (ON KAWARA, One Million Years, Two volumes, Produced and published in 1999 by Editions Micheline Szwajcer & Michele Didier), 2020
Acrylic on canvas in two (2) parts
Each: 9 7/8 x 15 3/4
25 x 40 x 3 cm
Each framed: 10 3/4 x 16 1/2 inches
27.3 x 41.9 cm
Overall: 10 3/4 x 33 1/2 inches
27.3 x 85.1 cm
A painting by Liu Ye, titled Book Painting No. 6, dated 2014 to 2015.

Liu Ye

Book Painting No. 6, 2014-2015
Acrylic on canvas
9 7/8 x 15 3/4 inches
25 x 40 cm
Framed: 10 5/8 x 16 1/2 inches
27 x 41.9 cm

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          The Book and the Flower

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