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Liu Wei

Artist 213

Liu Wei Corruption and Cultural Anxiety Conceptual Art Liu Wei (born in 1972) is a Chinese artist based in Beijing. He works in varied media – video, installation, drawing, sculpture, and painting. Conceptualism, satire, and humor are the hallmarks of his works. There tends not to be a uniting stylistic tendency in his work though but there is a uniting theme of "a sentiment of excess, corruption, and aggression reflective of cultural anxiety". His work looks at the themes of the city and the everyday.

First in the city Liu has used urban architecture and city landscapes in many of his works. His works present ideas of corruption, alienation, or the immense verticality of a megalopolis’s infrastructure. About the influence of the city on his art, Liu Wei has said, “Cities are reality; all of China is a city under construction, and of course this influences me.”He also has acknowledged that the reality of the city is powerful and that we “feel numbed most of the time.” Liu Wei's city is ahistorical. It shows mindless material changing, decay, demolition, and construction. Thus, people are subjected to a constantly changing environment and an overwhelmingly perpetual present.

In Liu Wei's city, a person can no longer organize his or her experiences based on a historical narrative. One can only live in the chaotic present. Secondly in the everyday Liu Wei produces artworks consisting of everyday “readymade” materials. These works are composed of household objects like washing machines, exhaust fans, and televisions, many of which have been altered, cut out, or “blown apart” by some unspeakable force. These works speak to the mass production and consumerism of modern society, using objects that represent the luxury of contemporary capitalist society.

His use of everyday household objects and “readymades” also suggests a reinvestment in materials. The works demand that, even as new technologies and machines produce new and more ephemeral types of knowledge, humans acknowledge the forms of the everyday objects. Rather than beginning with a material or a technique, Liu Wei brings his artistic endeavors with ideas and then considers how best to express them. When he becomes comfortable and "fluent" with a particular type of work and no longer finds any obstacles or problems within that material type and the style it achieves, he changes his materials and styles. When ask how he defines his work Liu Wei replied, "I couldn't. There's no way to define it."


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