An Te Liu Low FIdelity, 2022, Anat Ebgi, Installation view
An Te Liu’s sculptures take their origins from everyday objects designed to protect and enhance and, through his interventions, are transformed into sensual biomorphic forms that are at once familiar yet uncanny. Working in bronze, ceramic, and steel sculptures his sculptures are often composed and cast from foam packing materials, sports equipment, and other collected relics from the artist’s life. Citing the history of Modernism and its hubristic desire for purity and refinement, Liu’s transgenerational signals of the body and memory mutate and devolve. His works serve as explorations of progress, improvement, and provocations of what it might mean to achieve one’s peak physical form or “optimum condition” through time. A Pulcinella of sculpture, the works proffer multitudes of identities willfully embodying a paradox.
An Te Liu (b. 1967, Tainan, Taiwan) received his Masters in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles and his BA in Art History at the University of Toronto. Working predominantly within sculpture and installation, Liu’s work has been exhibited in venues including the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Ursula Blickle Stiftung, the EVA Biennial of Ireland, the Venice Biennale of Architecture, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His works are included in the permanent collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Louis Vuitton Foundation, The Art Institute of Chicago, The National Gallery of Canada and The Art Gallery of Ontario. Liu lives and works in Toronto, Canada.
Through cropping and selection, Liu fashions these materials into evocative sculptures that draw from his childhood while simultaneously referencing ancient artifacts and modernist sculpture. — Jody Zellen
Never glorifying nations or heroes in any conventional sense, Liu’s anti-monumental aesthetic is meant, among other things, to anticipate a posthuman realm, one that will be left in the wake of ego- and greed-driven ideologies. —Dan Adler
5 Exciting Local Artists We Met at Art Toronto 2018
At Art Toronto, his [Liu] cast-bronze works take a turn toward deeper abstraction, forgoing easily recognizable objects in favour of more undulating shapes that recall the work of 1960s sculptors like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. —David Agnew
Insectile, mechanical and almost totally mysterious, An Te Liu's sculptures look like alien cargo-cult relics and ritual masks from some postapocalyptic religion. Modernist body parts, sliced and curved, jaunt and squirm on clean plinths and from mounts on the smooth walls. — Andrew Berardini
Review: From packaging material to modern totem: The wry art of An Te Liu
"Transmission," as the show is titled, prompts a stimulating meditation on objecthood and time, on the aesthetic legacy the Toronto artist has inherited as well as the problematic material legacy that our consumerist culture leaves for the next generation. —Leah Ollman
Set upon plinths, platforms, and beveled recesses on one side of the gallery, the installation perfectly mimics the theater of archeological museum display. The dais is recast as a stage, and the works pulse with clownish, deadpan brilliance. — Christina Catherine Martinez
Architect and artist An Te Liu featured in Globe and Mail contemporary art series
"I often begin with something familiar and 'strange-ify' it. I like the idea that the work can instill a sense of curiosity and give an opportunity to pause and reflect, and maybe scratch your head and wonder what it is you're looking at." —An Te Liu
An Te has created his own lexicon through his selection of found materials, melding together the ancient and the modern. This juxtaposing of objects made of industrial materials with titles referencing figures in some cases from antiquity, illustrates the endless possibilities of reworking materials and reframing their narratives within space. —Alice Tallman
Tropos reveals how Liu’s methods not only make associative connections, but also delve into how traditions have been received and interpreted over time. His works are intentionally slippery, playing to the changes inherent in the writing and rewriting of history. —Shannon Anderson
Kensington Market Lofts Mural Presents a Gateway of Color to the Neighborhood
An Te Liu’s concept for the color configuration was based a pattern depicting the neighbourhood’s historic diversity, the distribution of the colors being drawn from an analysis of the percentage of those present in the world’s national flags. The significance of the approach is that the material sits comfortably within its bohemian context as it complements the existing vibrant-colored awnings, shops and graffiti that energize the streetscape. —ERA Architecture
Though this object appears almost alien in form, it’s cast from casing originally used to protect a Hello Kitty toy, the only trace of which can be found in three small but distinct whiskers inside of the cast like a bas-relief. Ultimately, Liu’s encounters with the spoils of consumerism reflect a regeneration of waste material into sculptural form. —Matthew Ryan Smith
The works in An Te Liu’s exhibi-tion “Mono No Ma” (monomeaningthing and mameaning space or gap) explore the act of imbuingsuperfluous objects—Styrofoampacking materials and casings—withvalue. Liu creates meaning, and thus value, by reproducing these materials in stoneware and re-encasing them within high-gloss glazes. —J. Lynn Fraser
The angled L-shape clay sculpture, supported by a spindly steel rod atop a concrete base, is based on the packaging for the latest iMac. While consumer electronics and appliances like this one are built for obsolescence, Liu’s ceramic sculptures capture that moment of unwrapping something new, even state of the art, and ask us to re-evaluate our perceptions of the oft-overlooked packaging. —Nina Boccia
Mr. Liu is much like his sculptures: willing to push boundaries and learn to wield a new craft. With grace and charm, he mentioned that he didn’t know much about ceramics at the outset but was willing to learn. Once the wheels were set in motion, he jokingly mentioned that progress was swift and with three kilns firing pieces, to him, it was akin to an episode of Breaking Bad: “We gotta cook it now!” —Tiffany Leigh
From the Vault | An Te Liu: Gardiner Museum Toronto
While each sculpture bears the imprint of an object in use today, the ambiguity of their origin invites reflection upon our relationship to things, both utilitarian and artistic, old and new. As such, the nineteen works of MONO NO MA stand like fossils of an evolving, unconscious present. —Anne Doran
Modern Man: An Te Liu and the space between idea and object
Like the Bauhaus, the only thing Liu does not produce is architecture. But what he makes encircles architecture, inhabits the resonant field around it. With high imaginative vigor and playful spirit, Liu peoples this complex territory with multivalent images that speak to us of times rich in both possibility and pathology—childhoods in light that the artist, and the rest of us, have only tentatively outgrown, if we have outgrown them at all. —John Bentley Mays
"Duchamp certainly is an early influence on my work. Duchamp tended to defunctionialize things in the process of making them artworks. I tend to do the same thing thing sometimes, make the functional malfunctional and I go the opposite way as well." —An Te Liu
Artist creates Monopoly house as monument to credit crunch (three more and he can buy a hotel)
Standing as a monument to the credit crunch, this life-sized Monopoly house was created as an ironic statement on the global financial crisis. Liu spent two months building the house last year and employed friends and volunteers to strip the home of guttering, satellite dishes and windows before covering it in latex block filler paint. —Daily Mail
Is it a metaphor? An attempt at irony? Or is it art? According to Canadian artist An Te Liu, his life-sized Monopoly house is all three. Liu believes the mortgage mess "was caused by traders and bankers playing their games on Wall Street, so the common man was squeezed because of that." —Al Olson
Taiwanese-Canadian artist An Te Liu’s recent work operates within the complex airspace of classification, hygiene and weightlessness. Charged with conflicting and multiple readings of scales and eras, Liu employs modified devices and materials in swarms and assemblies with a tenacious attention to sequencing. —Mason White
Liu locates these altruistic ambitions not at an architectural scale but in the range of contemporary household devices that reveal a particular psychological dimension to the call for light, space, and air. The installation is not only tightly composed and formally pleasing, but provokes a range of associations and responses, able to suggest the hope and fear inherent in Modernism's continuing legacy. —Rodney Latourelle
Between Air and Space: Prologue to An Te Liu’s ‘Exchange’
The pragmatic and aesthetic agendas of modern urbanism are ostensibly consistent. Yet, they may not completely overlap: There is a gap between space and air in the world they project. This is where Liu's work is uncomfortably at home. —Rodolph El-Khoury
mosaiCanada: Sign and Sound, Seoul Museum of Art (sema) (cat.)
Dead Malls, Urban Center Gallery at the Municipal Art Society, New York (cat.)
Rethinking Photography IV: New Reduction as Expansion, Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg
Blister In The Sun, Gallery Neubacher, Toronto
Bauhauswerk, weework, Toronto
Newmodulr, Blackwood Gallery, Toronto and The Art Gallery of Calgary
Housebroken, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Luster, Henry Urbach Gallery, New York, NY
Bibliography - Monographs and catalogues of solo exhibitions
Darryn Doull: A Sheaf of Time, exhibition essay for La Durée, Division Gallery, 2018.
An Te Liu. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2015. With texts by Kitty Scott, Andrew Berardini, Pablo Larios, and Ken Lum.
An Te Liu—The Knowing Nothing of the Thing. Shanghai: Art Labor, 2014. With text by Daniel Ho.
An Te Liu: MONO NO MA. Toronto: George R. Gardiner Museum, 2013. With text by Michael Prokopow.
An Te Liu: Matter. Berlin: Künstlerhaus Bethanien, 2008–09. With texts by Vanessa Joan Müller, Astrid Mania, and a conversation with Nicolaus Schafhausen.
Bibliography - Catalogues of group exhibitions
Francesca Valente: Out of the Bush Garden—Contemporary Artists from Central-Eastern Canada. Venice: Antiga Edizioni, 2016.
Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Greg Hill, Andrea Kunard, Jonathan Shaughnessy and Rhiannon Vogl: Shine a Light / Surgir de l’ombre: La Biennale Canadienne 2014. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2014.
Michael Prokopow and Janine Marchessault, eds.: The Leona Drive Project (Public 43). Toronto: Public Access, 2011.
James Gunn, ed.: One Hour Empire: Empire of Dreams. Toronto: Impulse [B:] and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 2010.
Yilmaz Dziewior and Angelika Nollert: EVA 2009 Biennial of Visual Art. Cork: Gandon Editions,2009. Kjeld Kjeldsen and Michael Juul Holm, eds.: Fremtidens arkitektur er grøn!. Humlebæk: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2009.
Julia Höner: Kreatur und Kosmos, Hier ist Amerika oder Nirgends. Berlin: Galerie Ben Kaufmann, 2008.
Aaron Betsky: Out There: Architecture Beyond Building, 11th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. Venice: Marsilio, 2008.
Joseph Rosa: Reimagining the Ornamental, Figuration in Contemporary Design. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Press, 2008.
Julie Carson and Nana Last, eds.: Paradox Practice: Architecture in the Wake of Conceptualism. Irvine: UC Irvine, 2007.
Mirko Zardini, ed.: Sense of the City: An Alternative Approach to Urbanism. Baden: CCA and Lars Müller Publishers, 2005.