Dapeng Liu wants you to slow down

There is stillness everywhere if you know where to look. Dapeng Liu’s latest exhibition presents this immovable state in both painted abstract landscapes and recreations of split-second frames from popular films, news and the internet. Displayed side by side, from the disparate surfaces, something harmonious emerges.

“They have a different sense of stillness,” says the Sydney-based artist of his paintings. “I got a lot of feedback for my previous works from audiences—they can see calmness, peacefulness and stillness in there. I’m expanding this into a different realm.”

Born in Beijing, Liu takes inspiration from traditional Chinese landscape painting, adapting its shifting perspectives into his own work. The artist’s colourful landscapes depict mountains and water through this lens, often with translucent areas where the overlap creates a new shade. “I always mix geometric shapes, that I think belong to the human-made world, with natural shapes,” he says.

Dapeng Liu, Paused no.2, 2023, oil on polyester, 51 x 61cm.

Stillness-juxtaposed takes subtle cues from traditional Chinese scroll paintings by presenting diametrically opposed images together—as the eyes scroll, the perspective changes. It represents a new mode of thinking for the artist. “I’ve started using more variations on colour and gradients,” he says. “I’m still using hard edges, but I want to bring the softness in.”

By referencing images from the news cycle, Liu invites viewers to slow down and take time to digest what they are seeing. “Because of the influx of information nowadays, a certain piece of news or information does not stay in people’s heads for too long,” he says. “I’m picking what I want to stay longer, and presenting it to the audience in a different form… Everything goes on so fast, but I think there’s important value to still images.”

Dapeng Liu
Art Atrium
21 October—4 November

This article was originally published in the September/October 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen