文 / 姜伊威
“刘讴睿：决赛，圈，工作室 ” 2020 SPURS Gallery展览现场
Liu Ourui: Sitting in the Room but Sensing the Forest
by Jiang Yiwei
Liu Ourui had two choices back then: to become an athlete or an artist. He chose the latter. However, athletes and artists are not only professional identities, but also personalities or natures; one may choose one’s profession but not one’s character and nature. Liu Ourui preserves the athletes’ instinctive urge to control their bodies. In 2014, he was seriously injured while playing football and had to rest for as long as three-years. It must have been a painful experience; with many magazines in hand, Liu Ourui used them to scrawl or collage to pass the time.
It was already 2016 when the plate was removed and he gradually recovered. Liu Ourui moved from Shenyang to Beijing and had a new studio. His past works were left in the northeast hometown, and only those scrawled magazine pages were brought with him. They seemed to be messed up casually and thoughtlessly, but they opened up possibilities for a new stage of his creation. Even until today, Liu Ourui acknowledges that some of his works around 2017 were made for healing. These works, includingThe Aphasiac and The Gentleman, implicitly present a similar perspective to Hitchcock’s Rear Window: a viewer in the wheelchair is receiving pictorial information from the external actively but passively, while absorbing information within a closed environment actively but passively due to restricted visual height.
“Every artist’s studio is an intuitive and authentic representation of his or her own state,” reckons Liu Ourui, “Thanks to the art education in China, we’re all familiar with the studios of masters like Lucien Freud or Francis Bacon; they are just too well-known. Whenever I see an artist’s studio in books or online, I’d stop for a moment. I think this field of connection has to be built up slowly. Whether the work is good or not, establishing the field is the first step.” In 2020, Liu Ourui tried to present his easel paintings and his studio at the same time in an experimental project at SPURS Gallery. “But I didn’t want to ‘build it up’, if so all materials would be discarded after the exhibition. I wanted to ‘recycle’, so I displayed it through photography, in a documentary way with scattered perspective. The cloth materials used in photography were also part of the construction, interspersed with some real albums, canvases and paints.”
The solo exhibition “Chaser in the Jungle” will present Liu Ourui’s new works from 2020. These works represent his experience at a new stage: when his thoughts diverged and he is immersed in painting, Liu Ourui feels like a hunter. He painted himself hunting (Hunting and The Hunter Who Carries the Bird), and things he encountered in the jungle (Fruit of the Forest and Flower·Fire). Liu Ourui is used to watch muted wilderness survival shows before going to bed, where he interpreted the bright red fruits on the screen as grapes, thus promoting his Dionysian spirit. In works such as Shadow Hiding and Outward, the air around him turned into a savage forest when he was sitting in front of the canvas. The brushstrokes show not only the joy of harvest but also the dodging and exploration of dangerous things in the jungle.
Somehow artists are divided into two kinds: one is presented as a finished work; the other is presented in a continuously diverging, changing and progressive way. A famous example is Mark Rothko, whose works are always done in the process of listening to music, and the visual presentations are the representation of listening. Liu Ourui used to practice the 110m hurdles, a very rhythmic game; artistic creation has much in common with physical training. Although he had to stop painting because of playing football, he felt the same undistracted attention while playing football as while painting. Besides, in his new solo exhibition, Liu Ourui has deliberately restrained his strong sense of unconfined discursiveness in his past works. Paintings of random sizes or on bare canvas are now mostly restricted to 200cm or 260cm. “Even if I’m not competing, I can practice some skills on my own. My studio looks like it’s been bombed by a plane at first glance, but my work is very rational: it is to extract the problem, correct it, and start over again, to reach my goal little by little. There is a clear goal for each step I take.”
As for processing materials, Liu Ourui tried hard to cultivate his unique skill. He admired the texture made by masters such as Munch, but he had to extract from himself something completely of his own. “I experiment a lot with toner and paper to get the texture I want. I have a very strong sense of it before I start. Then, when I can gradually achieve the desired fit with the color powder on the canvas, I will turn to the canvas. I also use propylene. I admire the skills of oil painting very much. At the present stage, I clearly need the characteristics of propylene; it’s technologically perfect as it can dry quickly and overlay. Purposes and possibilities come out slowly in the process of experimenting. What are the advantages, the disadvantages, and how to deal with the thickness? How do I exploit its characteristics? I have to train myself personally to compliant the material.”
Looking at the series of works under the theme “hunting”, Liu Ourui has precise modeling ability and advanced use of colors. His works are also impactful in terms of skills and styles, perhaps credit to the training he received at LuXun Academy of Fine Arts. However, his paintings build up a very private and personal world at the same time. Liu Ourui doesn’t socialize much and maintains a very simple lifestyle, with sports and painting take up almost all of his daily life. Under the defined pace of time and space, Liu Ourui completely opens himself up in his own world. Apart from playing football or badminton every Thursdays, he spend all of his time in the studio, doing collage if he’s tired of painting, and paint if he’s wearied of cutting, or playing with canvases, frames, palettes, switching between different works to capture his stream of consciousness.
Therefore, such works also put forward some requirements on the viewers. Those who can “breathe together” with the artist are more likely to feel the rhythm of the painting and the spiritual state of the artist while painting --- thinking of the exhaustion and pain conveyed in Inoue Yuichi’s later works. It doesn’t mean that Liu Ourui’s works are as heavy as Inoue’s; to quote from literary critics, it is important that the artist’s “own body is present”, as it invites the viewers to be with the artist, to hold their breath with the smell of ink and paint, to experience the touch of twigs and grass, and to feel the tension and excitement of facing preys with strengthened courage after drinking.
About the Artist
Liu Ourui, was born in Liaoning province in 1985. Graduated from the First Studio of the Oil Painting Department of Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in 2009. He is now living and working in Beijing.
正 在 展 出
「 森林与猎人 Chaser in the Jungle 」
O2art was founded in 2011. It's an organisation that focuses on promoting and managing contemporary professional artists. It has independently curated many group exhibitions as well as solo exhibitions, with artworks in various media including paintings, sculptures, installations, photography and so on. Now O2art has two spaces located in 798 Art Zone and O2art Online Project Studio in Shunyi central villa area. O2art will continue to follow up artists’career and creation development, and become a strong part of China's contemporary art community.