Liu Wei: PANORAMA

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Six black and white landscapes that look like mountain peaks rising from the mist are part of Chinese contemporary artist Liu Wei’s Looks Like a  Landscape series, which he submitted to the Shanghai Biennale in 2004. Lean in closer and you’ll realize that the round figures that look like  mountain peaks are in fact people’s buttocks. Once you realize this, all  the details become clear— the hairs on the thighs, the indents in the skin made by clothing and even a mosquito sitting atop a buttock. Born in  Beijing in 1972, Liu Wei started his career when he took part in an  exhibition called Post-Sense Sensibility. During his younger  days, he held sensational and avant-garde exhibitions that were sometimes forcefully shutdown by the police. Prolific for the past two decades, he’s reputed for following the motto: "Art is a question about reality after all," and working to deconstruct conventional ideas about art in a way that’s humorous and satirical. Liu Wei’s style is evident all throughout the exhibition, which is showcasing 12 of his   representative works, including paintings,  photographs, videos and installations. In addition to Looks Like a  Landscape, another good example is an installation called Look! Book, which fills up a whole wall in the main hall. Look! Book invites you to look at various shapes resembling cement blocks that are actually made of real books. It questions what is more valuable—to look at a book or to look an image. The sculpture, Merely a Mistake is one that Liu Wei has been working on since 2009. It incorporates  doorframes formerly used in old Chinese public buildings, such as hospitals and schools, and reconstructs them into new shapes and  makes a statement about the cycle of birth and rebirth. Similarly, Panorama is a collection of doorframes, metal frames, pipes and other structures from old Chinese public buildings that have been fashioned in a Gothic style. This is the first time that PLATEAU is  putting on a solo exhibition of a Chinese artist, and it is their last show before the 17-yearold museum closes. When asked why Liu Wei was chosen, PLATEAU succinctly answered that he is one of the most widely-recognized emerging artists from China today. However, after  seeing the exhibition, perhaps one statement he gallery is making by featuring him is the implication that this is not simply an ending, but is instead a part of the cycle that happens in the art world. In Liu Wei’s own words in 2013 for the gallery Lehmann Maupin: “I hope that for everyone […] it’s only the start of questioning.”

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