Hung Liu was born on February 17, 1948 in Changchun, China. Hung Liu is a Chinese-American painter who focuses on paintings based on historical Chinese photographs of prostitutes, refugees, street performers, laborers, prisoners, and many more. By incorporating a reflective process into her paintings, she explains the history of the authority that the Chinese culture went through, uncovering the narratives and culture behind the people in her works. By contributing to the exploration of history of China, viewers can see the culture of China through her paintings and manifest it into the present.
Hung Liu earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1975 at the Beijing Teachers College. She then moved on to get a graduate degree in Mural Painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1981. Artistic freedom led her to study in the United States, leaving China in 1984 to study at UC San Diego. While her artistic training had a focus on the socialist realist tradition, she veered away from this tradition and focused on a fluid, Western style, separate from the strict rules that were imposed on her as a student in China.
The print series “Seven Poses” was created by Liu to depict much of what women who were prostitutes were going through in pre-revolutionary China. Liu incorporated the women into the paintings, just like the other motifs included in the paintings, such as insects, birds, and flowers. Her paintings, which use calligraphic brushstrokes and washy colors, make her message stand out.
Many of Liu’s works were shown in the exhibition Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu, where she was able to show a survey of her artwork at the Oakland Museum of California. Exhibiting approximately 80 paintings and other personal memorabilia, such as photographs, sketches, and more, the exhibition highlights Liu’s accomplishments as an artist and the Chinese culture that she proudly displays.
- Oakland Airport. Liu’s art was displayed throughout various locations in Oakland, such as her mural that spread along a wall of windows in Terminal 2 at the Oakland International Airport and depicted flying cranes. She received the Americans for the Arts Annual Public Art Year in Review Award for this exhibit, which was called “Oakland Airport: Going Away, Coming Home.”
- Mills College. One of the most important places that Liu hung out was at Mills College where she was an art professor, teaching as a contemporary artist from 2001 to 2014. Throughout her career at Mills, she was given grants and awards for her paintings. Liu showcased her works at a companion exhibition at the Mills College Art Museum. Since retiring from Mills, she spends a lot of her time working in her own studio in the Bay Area.
- Oakland Museum. Liu’s artistic works were showcased at the Oakland Museum of California in an exhibition from March 16 to June 30, 2013. Here Hung’s works were shown, highlighting the success of her career and the complexity of her art, which not only had unorthodox styles and ideas, but also incorporated a lot of history of Maoist times in China.
~ by Patricia Dalao ~
Image 5: “Going Away, Coming Home,” 2006
Photo Courtesy: East Bay Times
Oakland International Airport
Image 6: Photo Courtesy: Hung Liu and the Campanil, 2013
Image 7: Photo Courtesy: Oakland Museum of California