Liu Wentao’s paintings are made up of the intricate, interweaving fine, straight lines of his pencil drawings, retracting in density and alternating in distance. At first, this unconventional painting experience left spectators taken aback. Later on the artist started to provide food for thought through his incredible endurance and the perfection of his visual presentation. The intertwining of simple straight lines on the flat canvas results in a material superposition. The refraction of light caused by the lead textures interacts with the diverse, 3D geometrical picture frames, using a minimalist method to present the interchanging between light and space to the beholder.
As an experimenter of form, Liu Wentao regards the void of the canvas as the starting point of his works. At no point do the straight raven-black strokes made by the lead pencil deliberately manufacture meaning. Instead, they ceaselessly perform a combined dialectical relationship between “nothing/absence” and “something/presence”. His most recent experiments in painting involve spatial forms based on computer models that serve as a concrete display of presence, yet on the other hand also convey a kind of boundlessness, which doesn’t signify a disappearance of “absence” but rather demonstrates the potential generated by “absence”. As previously stated by Mu Zongsan, “There are two ways of the Tao, one is called the void, the other is called the concrete. When they come into a circle as one, they become that which is referred to as xuan.” Liu Wentao’s paintings demonstrate a visual space overflowing with dialectical speculation.
Liu Wentao (b. 1973, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China) studied at the Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) and the Art Department of the University of Massachusetts (Boston). Recent solo exhibitions include Liu Wentao, Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, China (2018); Meta, WHITE SPACE BEIJING, Beijing, China (2018); Liu Wentao Works, ZAN art museum, Qingdao, China (2015); Xuan, White Space, Beijing, China (2014); Light and Shadow, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Étude, Aranya Art Center, Beidaihe, China (2020); Becoming, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China (2018); The world is yours, as well as ours, White Cube, London, UK (2016); Art Project 24: Naissance, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China (2015); New Generation of Abstract Art, Sishang Art Museum, Beijing, China (2014). Liu Wentao currently lives and works in Beijing, China.