Born 1964 in Beijing, China.

Lives and works in Beijing.


1998 Artist in Residence, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam
1994 MFA Bildende Kunst, Universität der Künste, Berlin
1986–1989 Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing
1984 School of Arts & Crafts, Beijing

Solo Exhibitions (selection)

2020 Liu Ye: Storytelling, Fondazione Prada, Milan
2018 Liu Ye: Storytelling, Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai
2016 Mondriaan and Liu Ye, Mondriaanhuis, Amersfoort
2007 Chinese Window, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern

Group Exhibitions (selection)

2019 Thrill of Deception. From Ancient Art to Virtual Reality, Ludwig Forum, Aachen
2018 Lust der Täuschung. Von antiker Kunst zur Virtual Reality, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung München, Munich
Hello World. Revising a Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
2017 57th Venice Biennale
2015 The World in 2015, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
2014 Re-View – Opening Exhibition of Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai
Yuz Collection of Contemporary Art, Yuz Museum, Shanghai
Hans van Dijk: 5000 names, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
2013 Lightness – A Clue and Six Faces, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
2012 In Time – 2012 Chinese Oil Painting Biennale, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
Through All Ages, Opening Exhibition of Long Museum, Shanghai
2011 Future Pass – From Asia to the World, Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam

Liu Ye’s work combines direct references to the history of art and oblique political connotations to create a charged personal iconography that draws on real and imagined works of art, childhood memories and reallife figures. The often bright colors add a deceptively lighthearted quality. A young boy dressed in a sailor suit, for example, recurred as a poetic stand-in for the artist. Yet, the boy himself combined contradictory attributes: cherub wings found in Western renaissance paintings and, in reference to Chinese politics, tinted spectacles with circular glasses. In particular, the recurring depictions of works in the style of the Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian evoke the history of abstraction, a topic Liu Ye has explored since 2007 in his series of Bamboo paintings, among others. These works combine the specific art historical associations with a plant depicted in Chinese ink drawings with compositions reminiscent of Western 20th century abstraction.

Liu Ye grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution. He has thematized the subject obliquely with stylistic references that invoke the aesthetics reminiscent of that period’s propaganda. At the same time, the cheerful colors and simply characterized figures invoke children’s books — a large influence which also has biographical roots, since the artist’s father was a graphic artist who illustrated children’s books.

His paintings can be in turn playful, erotic and mysterious but all show a deep knowledge of the history of art, both Western and Eastern.