His writing and travelling experiences inspired and paved the first steps to his artistic career. He built a house in the mountains near the Great Wall in north Beijing, and spent 3 years in the house, completely cutting off all connections to the outside world
He was following an ancient Buddhist practice of self-cultivation “Bìguãn” where it is believed that to fully concentrate on understanding one’s own mind and finding wisdom and enlightenment, it is necessary to disconnect any social interactions with the outside world first.
Despite never previously receiving any formal art training, during his years of self-cultivation, Liu became aware of an explosive passion for artistic creation. But suddenly he started experimenting with all kinds of mediums. With expressing an intense fervour, he created thousands of diverse artworks including pen drawings, statues, oil paintings, architecture, knitting, Chinese paintings, and calligraphy, refusing to limit himself to one medium.
Few sculptors create more than one thousand works in their lifetime but Liu sculpted 6,202 original pieces in just 2 years. The underlying theme of all his sculptures is the expression of essence, focusing on first impression. The sculpture looks entirely like the object in the first impression but the moment of “being alike” instantly turns into “not being alike” because it just doesn’t seem like the actual object when you look at it closely. This idea of abstract, figurative beauty allows Liu to explore the world without limitations as the potential sources of inspiration are endless. His Chinese Zodiac (also called Twelve Symbolic Animal Signs) sculptures have been particularly well received in international art exhibitions.
Since February 2016, the French city of Nice has hosted a solo art exhibition in his honour. It is the largest art exhibition in south France, displaying 135 original pieces and has been extended for another 3 months after its original 7-month run. Liu is the first Asian artist to be featured and his exhibition is also the longest-running exhibition in the region. Liu Yilin's refreshing focus on “essentialism” and unique creativity across 11 mediums has earned him unprecedented universal acclaim by both critics and the public. Keen to welcome and promote his artistic innovation, the Nice government’s generous support included creating a personal website (http://liu-yilin.com) and establishing an active social media presence across Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the Nice art exhibition has received major news coverage by French local and national newspapers.
Due to the incredible success and overwhelming popularity of his exhibition in south France, Liu was accepted an invitation to move his works to Paris in February 2017.