Born in Beijing, China in 1965, Liu Wei studied printmaking at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating, Liu Wei quickly became known as a prominent figure in China’s “cynical realism” movement. Influenced by the events of 1989, his early paintings mirror the movement’s disenchantment with both political and artistic utopias, less a statement about historic events, than expressions of skepticism and satire.
Demonstrating a wide array of influences—from Chinese calligraphy to Expressionism—Liu Wei’s work has become less political over time, dealing instead with universal themes of humanity. Like his Western forebears Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, he is a master of rendering human flesh and combining figuration with subliminal text and abstraction. Liu Wei’s deft grasp of technique and acute awareness of color and composition is evident in his lush landscapes, in which flora and fauna often escape the confines of the canvas and spill out onto the hand carved frames.