Book as Remembrance

Book as Remembrance: Various Book Paintings, Liu Ye

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Liu Ye’s small, flat photo-realistic paintings are of books collected by the artists’ parents during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76). The books are often theory, text-books or works of literature – some of which (such as Nabokov’s Lolita) have political connotations.

Liu Ye - Book Paintings
Liu Ye – ‘Book Painting No. 10 Piet Mondrian Rot Gelb Blau Insel Taschenbuch 1995’, 2015. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

Although the images are very cleanly painted, some of the books are displayed upside down and often with a dark edge running along the top. On first glance this gives the impression that the canvasses were painted from badly developed photographs or slides, however in some images, such as ‘Book Painting No. 1’ (below), we can see that the line is intentional as pages stray over it. This gives the suggestion that we are looking at books neatly placed on the edge of a table. And the fact that the book is upside down to us, could suggest that we are looking at the object from above that table where it is positioned.

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