Liu Yue (born in 1981 in Shanghai) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Shanghai. First trained in oil painting at the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, he then developed his photographic practice once graduated. While exploring the meaning of the word “echo”, Liu Yue concentrates on the architectural quality of everyday life objects, such as quilts, pieces of plastic, and plaster spheres among others. These strange shapes that look like mounts crowned with whitish planets might call to mind his series Mountain Blossom, in which he has similarly turned ordinary duvets into mountains covered with blooming flowers. However this time Liu Yue uses another mise-en-scène: he places these duvets in a corner of a sort of white and empty room and transforms them into improbable sculptures, which are on the one hand imposing and marble-like, rigidly austere, on the other delicate and fragile, as if they were about to collapse. The exquisite flower motifs of the duvets contrast significantly with the rectilinear cracks of the seemingly floating spheres. The subtle variations of grey and white enhance the paradoxical impressions of lightness and heaviness. Liu Yue plays around with the notion of instability while disturbing our own perception.
Far from being a mere exploration of material objects, Liu Yue also questions man and his subjective construction of knowledge of the world. Everyone can identify the objects utilized in his artworks, but he remodels them so that we can perceive them “with a magnificent and ancient light, which allows us to move beyond the frame of what we know and admire their truth beauty.” By doing so, he attempts to unveil the essence of things; the act of looking straightforwardly at an ordinary object reveals its magical dimension. Liu Yue challenges our perception and leaves us feeling puzzled. Are we gazing at the photographic representation of an object or are we simply projecting our own interpretation of reality? Is our gaze really sincere and devoid of any cultural, intellectual, or visual conditioning? Certainly not, and Liu Yue invites us to ask these kind of questions so that to go beyond formal representation, to grasp the charm of each form, of each texture, without trying to associate it with familiar things. The aim is not to search for a particular meaning or concept but rather to take up the challenge of seeing things differently, as if it was a reminder that what we see is merely a projection of our own experiences, our own desires. An enquiry into visual acuity simple but efficient.
View more of Liu Yue’s work on Photography of China or at the OFOTO Gallery.
Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Cabos’s fantastic trilingual blog about photography and photographers in China.