Liu Wei's London show Density packed with vim

By Ming Liu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-14 09:37:11

Liu Wei's London show Density packed with vim

Architectural forms highlight Liu Wei's solo show in London, reflecting China's rapidly changing sociopolitical and urban landscapes. Provided to China Daily

In the winter of 2008, visitors entering the Saatchi Gallery in London for the exhibition The Revolution Continues: New Art from China were immediately met with the installation Love It! Bite it! The incredibly detailed work by Beijing-born artist Liu Wei, was a precarious-looking mini metropolis of the West's most iconic buildings-the Guggenheim, the Colosseum, the US Capitol-and it was made entirely out of dog chews. These were, after all, the "tastiest bits" of Western culture.

Liu Wei's London show Density packed with vim

Exhibit showcases city's 60-year art history 

Liu Wei's London show Density packed with vim

Painting a legendary life 

Fast forward to 2014, and from now until March 15, the White Cube gallery is hosting Liu's first solo show in London. It's the second appearance for the artist's work there-the first was part of an Inside the White Cube exhibition in 2012. The new show, Density, is a collection of new, never-seen-before pieces.

Devotees of Liu will find that Density revisits familiar themes, particularly China's rapidly changing sociopolitical and urban landscapes. Architectural forms feature throughout, evoking the skylines and digital data maps of the artist's Purple Air and Truth Dimension series.

Also recognizable is Liu's concern with reality and the chaotic here-and-now, and these are depicted through a collection of structured, iron and steel pieces that are layered together-another Liu trait-one example of which evokes the temporary construction of an advertising billboard.

The standout installation, however, is Density 1-6, an enormous collection of grand-scale geometric shapes, constructed from books, iron and wood. It references the forms that Chinese art students are given to draw at the start of their training and-just like Liu did with Merely a Mistake and his 2012 White Cube show-it continues his use of "real" materials, previous examples of which have included discarded wooden doors, old furniture and washing machines.

Density, as the title suggests, speaks as much to urban growth as to a metaphorical state of pressure and impenetrability, and in that, how art poses questions and new ways of thinking. Liu, however, is not interested in a back story or providing an explanation for the work-this is why, in fact, most of his pieces are simply titled Density.

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