By Ye Weiyang
Sculptures are lifeless, but good ones are full of vitality.
I see vitality in Liu Ruowang’s works which seem to conceal their greatness. Silence means more than words at this very moment.
There are three levels on judging a sculpture’s vitality: first, vivid and absolutely lifelike; a higher level means similar in spirits instead of images; rhe best are similar in both forms and spirits. We can perceive Liu’s growth in level when looking back his way on sculpture making.
Liu at the first level was lost in public view since those works were all done before he established his reputation. He had been creating on the spiritual level since his work was selected for ‘Bright Lights of the Academy’ exhibition at the Central Academy of Fine Art and awarded an honor for outstanding achievement. If we judge the works like Heaven Soldiers series or Guard of Honor with Cars and Horses series with pure life details, we will probably say his works are inconsistent with the facts, the reality and evidence. However, if we look at them at a higher level, we will feel the unspoken intentions.
Look, the faces from the loess land, silent as terracotta warriors while cries like Xintianyou (a kind of Shaanxi local melody), the modern rifles on their back seem all contradicted with those traditional figures. Such graft and mixed matches in fact revealed Liu’s deeper recognition and considerations of the world.
Those restless and wandering wolves are no longer character depiction of their cruelty, craziness and sadness or the so called wolf totem. Liu portrayed a sense of nervousness and danger long lasting in people’s heart in the modern society with the empathy approach since he chose to look at those wolves through a human perspective.
This is the similarity in spirits rather than in form. In Liu’s works, he deserted the burden of imitating just forms, but pursued a higher level of “expressive” on the basis of being similar in spirits.
Liu struggled to seek more metaphysical expressions based on the similarity in both forms and spirits. He wants to build a thought palace. Original Sin series, his latest work, clearly demonstrated this tendency. Where did we come from? Where are we going? What’s the burden on us? How should we save our souls? These questions are all in Liu’s works. As a Chinese proverb goes—peaches and plums do not have to talk, yet the world beats a path to them.
Original Sin, as Liu’s latest work, is consistent in showing the sense of history. Liu’s works are always making people to look back; probably because he was born in Shaanxi Province the place witnessed most of the historical events in China. His early works The East is Red series and People series were already full of it, and his later works are of no exception.
Original Sin led this sense of history to religion, trying to reply the ultimate proposition of the human species. Viewers can’t help feeling the purity of religion and the power of thinking when looking at such works, which is exactly the highest level of art creation.