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Painting by Liu Yujun, from the series “Unidentified Liquid"

Documentation Signed
Origin China
Period 2000-2018
Materials Acrylic
Condition Good. Perfect condition
Creation Date 2010 ca
Description Painting by Liu Yujun, from the series “Unidentified Liquid”
2010 ca

Liu Yujun is a Chinese artist best known for his painting series “Unidentified Liquid”. From the perspective of artistic expression, Liu Yujun combines the oldest artistic methods with the most popular forms of expression from modern times.

In Liu Yujun's painting series entitled Unidentified Liquid most of the canvas is dominated by images of women combining the temperament of traditional Chinese women and the character of modern Chinese urban women. More specifically, Liu Yujun has created a series of unique images of ‘beautiful women' by enlarging and changing the forms in an invisible manner and by expanding and synthesizing in two opposite directions. In the first direction, he focuses on the image of the imperial palace maidens, the traditional Chinese beauties. In this respect Liu Yujun adopted some characteristic features, such as the slanting eyes with single eyelids and the traditional hairstyles from ancient Chinese paintings of imperial palace maidens, to emphasize the characteristics of Chinese women.
In the opposite direction, Liu Yujun specifically focused on the coldly elegant features of modern urban women, such as the cold and indifferent eyes, the heavily made-up lips, the smooth and shining skin, the slightly opened and seductive mouth and the characteristic postures and expressions. I suppose that this is the actual perspective from which Liu Yujun ingeniously integrates the most traditional and most modern aesthetic elements, two completely opposite aspects, into the images of ‘beautiful women' in his paintings. This is clearly related to his deep insight into the exact representation of both the gender characteristics and the cultural nature of images of Chinese women. From the perspective of artistic expression, Liu Yujun again combines the oldest artistic methods with the most popular forms of expression from modern times in his series Unidentified Liquid.

It is remarkable that each of the paintings in this series by Liu Yujun contains images of a blue liquid in a variety of forms. These images seem to be abrupt as there is no logical or semantic connection with the other images in the paintings whatsoever. We furthermore find that Liu Yujun has changed the blue liquid into an ‘unidentified liquid' to name these paintings, which mainly deal with Chinese women, and thus avoids the important to a certain extent and dwells on the trivial. Perhaps this is exactly where the problem lies.

By calling the blue liquid ‘unidentified liquid' and by using this name as the theme of this series of paintings even though this liquid does not dominate the works, Liu Yujun went beyond merely painting ‘beautiful women'. Liu Yujun illustrated this point in A Painter's Oral Account: ‘here, the blue liquid symbolizes a sense of insecurity'. If we look at the semantic and aesthetic relationship between different images in this series of paintings in a comprehensive manner, we find that this liquid, regarded as the central theme by Liu Yujun, indeed plays an important role in determining the aesthetic importance and meaning of the paintings. This is because from an aesthetic point of view the blue liquid, suddenly appearing out of nowhere, gives the static representation vitality and vigor.

The meaning of the enigmatic blue liquid seems to be mysterious and ambiguous, all the more because this liquid has no connection with the images of beautiful women whatsoever. Perhaps it is exactly this indescribable meaning that makes Liu Yujun see the blue liquid as a symbol of insecurity. In my view, however, the blue liquid appearing in the paintings or on the faces and bodies of the beautiful women is essentially negative in meaning. The argument of Liu Yujun is only one viewpoint out of many negative meanings. This is because if we have a look at these numerous negative meanings we doubtless discover landscapes that are not as beautiful as the ‘beautiful women' in these works. Perhaps the reality is exactly the opposite. The negative interpretations embodied in the series Unidentified Liquid precisely originate from the negation of beauty and result in different forms of denial of modern society and culture. This is in my view the real meaning of the series Unidentified Liquid and it is also a point of special importance and distinctive value in contemporary art.
Styles / Movements Color, Contemporary
Incollect Reference Number 318597
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