MIA LIU 2008-2019

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graduated from San Francisco Art Institute in 2007 and continued her study in CUNY Hunter College at the same year. In 2016, Liu was one of the finalists for Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Hong Kong/ China. At the same year, she held a solo exhibition A Perhaps Hand at the IT Park, Taipei/Taiwan. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions domestic and abroad, including White Rabbit Gallery/Sydney, Ludwig Museum/Hungary, CODA Museum/ Holland, National Art Museum of China/Beijing, Esplanade/ Singapore, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts/Taichung and Asian Art Biennial. Liu was received the artists in Residence program Glenfiddich/UK and CitĂŠ Internationale des Arts/Paris. Liu is an interdisciplinary artist with an emphasis in special installation, drawing, photography, video, and plant installation. 2


CODA Museum Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts Yu-Hsuan Liu OCI Museum Hui-Chan Kuo Janghwal Lim

Printed in Chiayi, Taiwan by Tooget 4

2008 - 2019











Cross-Pollination Kate Nicholson

It was while Taiwanese artist Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu was working behind the admissions counter at the Guggenheim Museum in New York that she decided to dedicate all of her time to art. “During that year, I realized that if I didn't try to become a professional artist, I would be selling tickets at the museum my entire life,” the 33-year-old says. Instead, she procured 200,000 museum passes and used them to create numerous circular “installation drawings." These sculptures, which incorporate paper cut techniques, plays of light and shadow and optical illusion, have been shown widely since Liu left New York and moved home to Taiwan, most significantly as part of the 2009 Asian Art Biennial, in a solo exhibition at non-profit Taipei art space IT Park in 2011 and as part of CODA Paper Art 2013. They will be presented again at Art Singapore 2014 by Taipei-based Liang Gallery. A stint in Scotland in 2011 as a Glenfiddich Artist in Residence sparked a spontaneous but welcomed move into video art and photography, while a grant from the Taiwan government to take part in the Cité Internationale des Arts residency between August 2013 and January 2014 has sparked a move back to painting. "The last time I painted was 2008," Liu says. The Readable Sculpture series and accompanying The Black Book Reading Room, both commissioned by Eslite Bookstore's Art Studio in 2013, are among Liu's latest attempts to combine drawings, three-dimensional forms and installation. After spending time in the bookstore observing the habits of the store's customers, Liu realized that most people selected a book because of its content. "As a visual artist, I decided to focus on the book's materiality: the weight, the size, the way of binding the book," she says. This led to a series of "readable sculptures" –books piled on top of each other, Tetris-like–and a participatory event where she turned visitors' books into art pieces that they could take home with them. Surface Asia Online, Jan 7, 2014
























My five years old pencil sketches on the inner pages of the ink paining catalogue. 38

Through pieces of ink paintings that my grandmother left behind thirty years ago, I open a dialogue with her in the bamboo forest.


Minor Scale































A Perhaps Hand #4



80 x 80 x 17 cm 72


80 x 80 x 17 cm 74



















I've dropped my Brain, My Soul is numb Ink, pencil on paper and spherical acrylic 30 x 30 x 30 cm 2019


Black Noise Ink on paper 120 x 120 x 17 cm 2018 94


White Noise Ink on paper 120 x 120 x 17 cm 2018 96


Drawing Dialogue in Seoul: Four Gentlemen Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Seoul flea market, traditional mulberry paper, fabric, rosewood and silk ribbon 55 x 900 cm Installation at OCI Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2019 98








Who’s Afraid of Dao Tian?, or Mia Liu in a Foreign Country Louis Ho

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” ― L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between The past is everywhere in Mia Liu’s work, and it seems as if things are very different there indeed. Her Dialogue among the Four Gentlemen: Drawing with Dao Tian is painting, drawing, aided readymade, appropriation, intervention, assemblage and, yes, dialogue, all at once. It assumes the form of a prodigious hanging scroll banner, almost ten metres long, draped from the ceiling in cascading curls and curves, folding and falling horizontally in hills and hollows, vertices and valleys, like a sinuous rendition of the serrated signals of a vital signs reading sculpted in space. The painted heart of the scroll, the huaxin, is a palimpsest of layers, lines, texture: found ink paintings, by another artist, of the four floral gentlemen of Chinese visual culture – the chrysanthemum, bamboo, plum and orchid – have been overlaid with abstract patterns of Liu’s own devising. In the blank stretches between image and inscription, between the profuse efflorescences of chrysanthemum and the gnarled bough bearing sprays of plum blossom, between the slender stems of a small bamboo grove and the willowy waves of orchid leaves, is a baroque web of angled lines, spherical shapes, indecipherable scribbles, limned in varying shades of pencil that echo the gradated hues of ink and wash. Interposed amidst the kaleidoscope, also, are patterns formed by cut outs of black nylon mesh, boasting designs ranging from those that recall chain-link fencing to the honeycombed hives of bees, redeployed here as readymade abstractions, found objects hovering between two- and three-dimensionality. Amplifying, finally, the geometric constellation is the mounting fabric of the scroll, a synthetic textile sporting a black-and-white arabesque that approximates the visual vibrato of Op Art, providing a meta-compositional device that extends the motific life of the world within the frame. The appropriation of another artist’s work in Dialogue among the Four Gentlemen represents a conceptual and


aesthetic manoeuvre that has typified Liu’s practice in recent years. It marks a turn that began with the Dialogue among Bamboos – Drawing with Liu Liang Ling-Fang series, where she intervened in the ink bamboo paintings of her late grandmother with her now trademark abstractions. According to her, she performs these gestures not as acts of iconoclasm nor vandalism, but as marks, according to her, of artistic affinity and continuity: “Although the non-stop process of one single bamboo ink painting is different from quick and random sketches, both share a similar spirit. And this process triggered the idea to establish a dialogue with my grandmother’s paintings.” In 2018, Liu embarked on a residency program in Seoul, South Korea, and, scouring local flea markets there as part of her continuing research into traditional visual and material cultures of East Asia, she stumbled onto works by an otherwise anonymous figure named Dao Tian, or, literally, Rice Field; her finds included the quartet of paintings later utilized in Dialogue. Almost nothing is known of this artist: not his/her real name, gender, origins (whether of Korean, Chinese or other ethnicity or nationality), artistic training, nor when or where the works were produced. Liu responded to Dao’s paintings with her characteristic sensibility: ...the rhythm of geometric lines added in pencil and the choppy flow of black ink scattered up and down could create an interesting landscape, both abstract and figurative, freehand and realistic. The Eastern and Western techniques and the different materials existing individually are seemingly not related to each other but quite naturally combined together. Not unlike the conceptual impetus behind the original Dialogue among Bamboos series, the discursive framing of the work here is premised on dialectic and juxtaposition, an equilibrium between binary poles – “abstract and figurative”, “freehand and realistic”, “Eastern and Western” – held together in productive tension in the gestures of the authorial hand. Despite the claims of similitude and comparability, however, what Liu’s interventions represent are not aesthetic equivalence, a likeness in unlikeness, but, more fundamentally, a departure from the dominant xieyi school of Chinese ink painting, a reversal of its discourse and practice that are premised on notions of expressing inner essence. The so-dubbed freehand style of “sketching ideas”, as the term literally translates to, was favoured by the literati class of Chinese scholar-painters, and was aimed not at mimesis, the aping of reality and its physical appearance, but rather stressed the mental and interpretive aspect of the brush; its deployment


was intended to capture the distilled spirit of the subject, or the mood and character of the painter. As Fritz van Briessen remarks of what he dubs the “spontaneous” style: “[It] does not imitate nature; it simplifies, abstracts, and concentrates. It works by suggestions and omission ... It aims to catch the mood of revelation of the scholar of Ch’an monk in communion with Nature and the Ineffable.” That Dao Tian was a painter of xieyi predilections is clear enough. His painting of the plum blossom, for instance, evinces his familiarity with the momei, or ink plum, genre. A single bough rises into the space of the painting, like the warm breath of spring that its flowers herald, their pellucid, stylized elegance of form only serving to bring into sharp relief the weather-beaten and lichen-encrusted texture of the bark. The flowering plum is depicted in a draping S-shaped curve, recalling immediately one of the most common compositions in the tradition, frequently encountered in the work of the Yuan dynasty painter and poet Wang Mian, for instance, who is regarded as “the pivotal figure in the development of the ink-plum genre from classical Song practice to the modern tradition that continues unbroken.” Dao’s rendition is, in particular, embedded in the sub-genre of the gumei, the old plum:images of twisted, battered old plum trees, with broken boughs, misshapen roots and rough, scaly trunks, which came into its own during the Mongol Yuan era, when it became associated with the figure of the scholarrecluse, the yimin alienated from foreign rule and reduced to voluntary exile. The old, deformed tree, blasted by the elements yet tenaciously enduring and flowering, becomes a poetic emblem of the isolation and survival of these leftover subjects. The fourteenth-century connoisseur Tang Hou, perhaps, best described the ideational character of the ink plum: Painting plum (hua mei) is called “sketching plum” (lit. “writing plum”, xie mei) ...Why? Because of the utter purity of [these] flowers, the one who paints [them] ought to employ ideas to sketch them (yi xie zhi), not dwell on formal likeness (xingsi). Chen Qufei’s (Yuyi) poem says, “If the idea is adequate, don’t pursue color and likeness ...” In the tradition of the flowering plum genre, Dao also appended an inscription to his painting. It reads: “Qing chuang xie chu heng xie jing, jue sheng qian chun ye xue shi.” Penned by the Song dynasty poet and scholar, the afore-quoted Chen Qufei, or Chen Yuyi, it is comprised of the last two lines of a poem written in praise of


another poem, Lin Bu’s “How Plum Flowers Embarrass a Garden”, or “Shan Yuan Xiao Mei”. What is of interest here, perhaps, is not so much the content of these specific verses – they boast what are now fairly formulaic sentiments about the aesthetic appeal of plum blossoms – but the fact that the inscription is a citation of a citation, Dao quoting Chen Yuyi referencing Lin Bu. The textual ghostliness at work here is premised on the retreat of the originary writing (Lin’s), which withdraws ever further with each successive citation or reference, the fact of deferred immediacy contributing to a form of ontological spectrality. This spectrality, or an absence in presence, is relevant precisely because it dovetails with the deliberate indeterminacy of the pictorial realm created here by Liu, the semantic equivocation of Dao’s colophon, its chain of referentiality constantly gesturing to earlier moments in the history of the literati genre, mirrored in the web of drawings, patterns and shapes that Liu has interposed in the original composition, the citational complex of the first thematically twinned with the interventionist gestures of the second. That there are two forms of appropriation happening in Dialogue among the Four Gentlemen is clear enough – and not just in the section of the ink plums – but equally salient is the fact that they are as dissimilar in spirit as they are appropriationist in intent. Dao’s literary recitation is but a textual correlate of his adherence to pictorial tradition, both operating within the parameters of literati discourse, but Liu’s interventions, in their eschewal of the symbolic forms and discursive context of xieyi painting, introduces instead an alien visual language premised on the seriality and modularity of Western geometric abstraction. The near mystical act of applying brush to surface in the xieyi tradition, of which D. T. Suzuki observed was “poor in form, poor in contents, poor in execution, poor in material, yet we ... feel the presence in it of a certain moving spirit that mysteriously hovers around the lines, dots, and shades of various formations; the rhythm of its living breath vibrates in them”, seems to have been purposively jettisoned for ...... what? What does Liu’s act of rendering minimalist abstractions and readymade patterns and objects over the work of another artist portend? Against the lyrical configurations of Dao’s painting – the serpentine arc of modulated ink tones of the bough and the abbreviated circular sweep limning each individual petal, or quanban fa, the circled-petal method–her sharply delineated abstractions, the linear zig-zagging forms, shaded circular shapes and patches of black nylon mesh fabric, recall instead the visual dynamics of, say, Picasso’s collages, Russian Constructivism, or, especially, mid-century Minimalism. It is the latter’s focus on hard


edges and geometric abstraction, achieved with the aid of drawing tools such as rulers and stencils, that Liu’s interventions evoke almost immediately; it is hard to imagine anything further from the autographic brushwork and poetic sentiments of Chinese ink painting. That Minimalist extraordinaire, Donald Judd, was known to have commented of his works: “they are usually aggressive.” It was precisely this display of power and aggression that disturbed one art historian, which she characterized as Minimalist art’s “obdurate blankness ... its harsh or antiseptic surfaces and quotidian materials.” Anna Chave bemoaned the look of impassive authority inscribed into Judd’s objects, their synthesis of industrial materials and geometric, modular units into expressionless, “blank” configurations. She also pointedly observed that“what disturbs viewers most about Minimalist art may be what disturbs them most about their own lives and times, as the face it projects is society’s blankest, steeliest face, the impersonal face of technology, industry, and commerce.” Here, indeed, is perhaps the crux of the dialogue that Liu stages with Dao. It is less of a natural combination, in her own words, between two different artistic sensibilities, but more of a discordant, confrontational encounter between a pair of starkly divergent discourses and visual complexes – an encounter from which the chief significance of the work may be said to derive. What Chave identified as the “steeliest face” of contemporary life that is reflected in the forms of Minimalism is echoed by the painter Peter Halley, who observed of abstract art in the twentieth century: Post-war abstraction was to be dominated by one overriding response to culture: spirituality and phenomenology supplanted by alienation as the guiding impetus ... it is the emotional blankness, emptiness and numbness of an abstract world where social relations have become as untethered as technology has. In the juxtaposition that is effected by Liu’s appropriation of Dao’s work, the autographic“spirituality” of the xieyi tradition that the latter embodies is put in perspective by the former’s evocation of the “emotional blankness” of the abstract idiom. Liu’s geometric symbols readily conjure a sense of contemporary urban life as it is lived out within the all-encompassing structures of advanced capitalism, seeming to allude, in immediate yet oblique ways, to modes of socio-political power, channelling the realities of a modern, industrial technocracy. The modularity and


standardization that characterizes her visual language recalls the homogeneity and abstraction of life as most of us live it today. Her drawings are visually anonymous, differentiated only in the tiniest, incidental details of pattern and texture; their indistinguishability evokes the aesthetics of the factory line, objects of high art appropriating the nondescript faceless of mass-manufactured products, which, in the form of the mesh fabric, are incorporated into the composition itself, almost as if an extension of Duchamp’s dictum that all art, insofar as they are produced from materials made by others, are always already readymades. The qualities of similitude, the determined blankness and mathematical regularity of Liu’s composition, also suggests static modes of existence, an ordered uniformity to the tenor of urban modes of life, of alienation as a response to the spirit. Here, then, is a foreign country.


Packaging of the work Drawing Dialogue in Seoul: Four Landscape 112

Drawing Dialogue in Seoul: Four Landscape Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Seoul flea market, traditional mulberry paper, fabric, rosewood and silk ribbon each 150 x 33 cm 2019







Drawing Dialogue in Kyoto: Eggplant Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Kyoto flea market, traditional mulberry paper, fabric, electric embroidery, rosewood and silk ribbon 160 x 57.5 cm 2019





Drawing Dialogue in Kyoto: Crab Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Kyoto flea market, traditional mulberry paper, fabric and arylic 130 x 33 cm 2019





Drawing Dialogue in Kyoto: The Mountain of Stars Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Kyoto flea market, traditional mulberry paper, fabric and electric embroidery 37 x 51 cm 2019



Drawing Dialogue in Kyoto: Remember Forever Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Kyoto flea market, traditional mulberry paper and fabric 50 x 48 cm, 64 x 70 cm 2019



Drawing Dialogue in Kyoto: Remember Forever Pencil on the ink and wash painting found in the Kyoto flea market, traditional and mulberry paper 110 x 40 cm 2019


In Between : Grass • Fenglin Colour photograph on dibond 120 x 151 cm 2019 132


In Betwwen : Giant Elephant's Ear • Fenglin Colour photograph on dibond 120 x 151 cm 2019 134


In Between : Big Stone • Fenglin Colour photograph on dibond 148 x 186.5 cm 2019 136


In Between : Dolosse • Fenglin Colour photograph on dibond 148 x 186.5 cm 2019 138


In Between : Silvergrass • Fenglin Colour photograph on dibond 148 x 186.5 cm 2019 140


In Between : Sago Palm • Fenglin Colour photograph on dibond 120 x 151.2 cm 2019 142



Mia Liu Currently lives and works in Taipei.

EDUCATION 2007-2008

Hunter College M.F.A program, Painting


B.F.A San Francisco Art institute, Painting


I dwell in Possibility, Mind Set Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan


A Perhaps Hand, IT Park Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan


Dialogue among Bamboos - Drawing with Liu, Liang Ling-Fang, Absolute Art Space, Tainan, Taiwan


The Black Reading Room, Eslite Art Studio, Taipei, Taiwan


Invisible Light, Accton Art Space, Hsinchu, Taiwan


I can't tell you, but you feel it, IT Park Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

GROUP EXHIBITION (Selected) 2019

HOT BLOOD, White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia


Creative 8, OCI Museum, Seoul, Korea


M Space Sculpture Biennial, The Pier-2 Art Center, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Double Selected, Double Square Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan Tropical Cyclone, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan CODA Paper Art, CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, Holland Art Central 2017, Central Harbourfont, Hong Kong 2016

Springs Eternal : Glenfiddich Artists in Residence - 12 Years from Taiwan,

Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan Transition of Times, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


The Sovereign Asian Art Prize

Finalist Exhibition, Hong Kong, China The Road Not Taken, MSAC, Taipei, Taiwan Playlist, VT art salon, Taipei, Taiwan


Paradi$e Bitch, White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia Subsurface Inclination: Joint Exhibition by Hsu Yunghsu and Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, Kalos Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan ReVision II, MSAC, Taipei, Taiwan Yi Jing: The art dialogue between different generation and regions, Da Xiang Art Space, Taichung,Taiwan Together we build a factory, Yonghe Arts and Education Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan


Body/Narraor, Silverlens Gallery, Manila


With my <>, trade your <>, Taipei Artist Village, Taipei, Taiwan

Art Stage Singapore, Marina Bay Sands Expo, Singapore Art Taipei, Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei, Taiwan Gazing into freedom: Taiwan Contemporary Art Exhibition, Vojvodina Contemporary Art Museum,Republic of Serbia CODA Paper Art, CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, Holland A Contemporary Art Exhibition Across the Strait, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China A Contemporary Art Exhibition Across the Strait, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan Here!, FreeS Art Space, Taipei, Taiwan Collection of Taiwanese Emerging Artist, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan Artshow Busan, BEXCO, Busan, Korea 2012

Very Fun Park, Fubon Art Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan Inside, Jendela Art Space, Singapore Polyphony Beat, Kalos Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan


Artists at Glenfiddich, Glenfiddich Distillery Gallery, Dufftown, UK Art Osaka, Hotel Granvia Osaka, Osaka, Japan Young Art Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan Tokyo Frontline Art Fair, 331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan



Taiwan Calling: Phantom of Liberty, Műcsarnok Museum, Budapest, Hungary Taiwan Calling: No Man's Land, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary Variations of Geometric Abstraction in Taiwan's

Contemporary Art, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan Key Words, Juming Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan Drawing Out Conversations: Taipei Setting Up, Nan Hai Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan Young Art Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan Contemporary airy craft from Japan and Taiwan Part 2, Project Fulfill Art Space, Taipei, Taiwan


Viewpoints and Viewing Points: Asian Art

Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan Comedies, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan Art Taipei, Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei, Taiwan Kaohsiung Awards, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan 2007

Ourselves&Each Other, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, United States


Art Chishang, Taitung, Taiwan


OCI Museum, Seoul, Korea


Cité Internationale Des Arts, Paris, France


National Taiwan University of Arts, Taipei, Taiwan


Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown, UK


Banqiao 435 International Artist Village, Taipei, Taiwan



Taipei Culture Foundation Exhibition Grant, Taiwan


Finalist, Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Hong Kong, China


Nominated, 13th Taishin Arts Award


Nominated, 10th Taishin Arts Award (Solo exhibition I can't tell you, but you feel it)

National Culture and Arts Foundation Exhibition Grant, Taiwan National Culture and Arts Foundation Exhibition Grant, Taiwan (Solo exhibition Dialogue among Bamboos - Drawing with Liu, Liang Ling-Fang) 2010

National Culture and Arts Foundation Artist Grant, Taiwan


Taipei Culture Foundation Exhibition Grant, Taiwan Selected artists for Art Taipei 2009 Made in Taiwan (Sponsored by The Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan) First Prize, Kaohsiung Award 2009, Taiwan Geisai 12 Sponsorship, FuBon Art Foundation, Taiwan


National Culture and Arts Foundation Artist Grant, Taiwan

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Art Bank, Taichung, Taiwan Kempinski Hotels, Hangzhou, China White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia Fubon Financial Holding Co., Taipei, Taiwan Yonghe Arts and Education Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan Fabulous Group, Taipei, Taiwan William Grant & Sons, Scotland, UK Accton Art Foundation, Hsinchu, Taiwan National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan