Liu Ye's The Little Match Seller is iconic of the artist's oeuvre. A lonely female character is depicted in a silent sombre winter landscape and shelters a flickering candle. Over and around the image, we see snow flakes flurry through the night. Their rendering contrasts the rest of the picture - the girl and vast plain look like a two dimensional color-pencil drawing, whereas the snow flakes appear three dimensional in their animation and soft depiction. Only the hair, dress and candlelight of the figure are in motion: they flicker, creating a mysterious atmosphere that gives the impression that the cartoon figure has come to life.
Liu was heavily influenced by the fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen, and The Little Match Seller is a direct reference to the author's famous tale of a similar name. Andersen's melancholic yet bittersweet tender narrative mirrors in Liu's pictorial animation. The fragile glow of the match is somehow hopeful, and yet, we can not help but wonder about the solitude and cold that the figure is subjected to.
Liu: "I always want to make paintings that anybody can understand. That aren’t about a short time, or are American, European, Chinese. (Paintings) like a flower (...): you must love a flower." Liu Ye lives and works in Bejing.