Critics’ Picks

  • View of “Liu Wei: 散场/OVER,” 2020-2021.

    View of “Liu Wei: 散场/OVER,” 2020-2021.

    Shanghai

    Liu Wei

    Long Museum, West Bund 龍美术馆 西岸馆
    No. 3398 Longteng Avenue
    November 11, 2020–January 17, 2021

    For most artists, the desire to portray the world took on a new urgency this year. The descriptive language Liu Wei chooses, to use his own words, “has no images, only shapes.” 

    Take, for example, the latest installment of the artist's “Microworld” series (2018-), titled Microworld No. 3, 2020, and on view in “Liu Wei: 散场/OVER,” his solo show at Shanghai's Long Museum. Through a glass vitrine, viewers see extremely lightweight aluminum sheets entwining in a winding biomorphic form that revolves around a central “core” and radiates outward. The flexibility of aluminum situates the work at the boundary between hard and soft, making it appear to be constantly expanding yet self-completing. The arcs and spheroids it describes, as well as the “skin-like” texture of its sculptural surface, mark a continuation of the artist’s concerns with bodily metaphor.

    Liu Wei's ongoing “Dark Matter” series, which began in 2008 with objects sheathed in black flannel, is here represented by an enormous cube suspended from the gallery ceiling. The black paint on its wooden faces ensures that as little light as possible is reflected, while its polished edges give the work an uncanny softness. Though obviously fallen, it appears to be poised to rise into the air. If Dark Matter, 2008-2020, like several of the artworks in this show, pushes materiality to a certain alienated extreme, its resistance to interpretation also reaches new heights. This masssive installation fills physical space of the exhibition, yet abolishes the space of meaning, making the latter into a semantic desert. Yet perhaps these obstructions and ambiguities form a picture of the world as the artist understands it, with all its illusory order and abstraction.

    Translated from Chinese by Qing Zhang