HUNG LIU: Seedlings
Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art & Byron Cohen Gallery
SHERRY LEEDY CONTEMPORARY ART 2004 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108 816.221.2626 sherryleedy.com byroncohen.com Catalog design Allison King Cover image Migrant Child; With Puppy
HUNG LIU: Seedlings presented by Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art & Byron Cohen Gallery
Hung Liu Bio Hung Liu was born in Changchun, China in 1948, growing up under the Maoist regime. Initially trained in the Socialist Realist style, Liu studied mural painting as a graduate student at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, before immigrating to the US in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she studied under Allan Kaprow, the American originator of Happenings. Known for paintings based on historical Chinese photographs, Hung Liu’s subjects over the years have been prostitutes, refugees, street performers, soldiers, laborers, and prisoners, among others. As a painter, Liu challenges the documentary authority of historical Chinese photographs by subjecting them to the more reflective process of painting. Much of the meaning of Liu’s painting comes from the way the washes and drips dissolve the documentary images, suggesting the passage of memory into history, while working to uncover the cultural and personal narratives fixed – but often concealed – in the photographic instant. Washing her subjects in veils of dripping linseed oil, she both “preserves and destroys the image.” Liu has invented a kind of weeping realism that surrenders to the erosion of memory and the passage of time, while also bringing faded photographic images vividly to life as rich, facile paintings. She summons the ghosts of history to the present. In effect, Liu turns old photographs into new paintings.
Recently, Liu has shifted her focus from Chinese to American subjects. By training her attention on the displaced individuals and wandering families of the American Dustbowl, Liu finds a landscape of overarching struggle and underlying humanity that for her is familiar terrain, having been raised in China during an era (Mao’s) of epic revolution, tumult, and displacement. The 1930s Oakies and Bindlestiff’s wandering like ghosts through Liu’s new paintings are American peasants on their way to California, the promised land. In these paintings, which have departed from her known fluid style in which drips and washes of linseed oil dissolve the photo-based images the way time erodes memory, she has developed a kind of topographic realism in which the paint congeals around a webbing of colored lines, together enmeshed in a rich surface that belies the poverty of her subjects. In this, the new paintings are more factually woven to Lange’s photographs while also releasing the energy of color like a radiant of hope from beneath the grey-tones of history. A two time recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in painting, Liu also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Printmaking from the Southern Graphics Council International in 2011. A retrospective of Liu’s work, “Summoning Ghosts: The Art and Life of Hung Liu,” was recently organized by the Oakland Museum of California, and is scheduled to tour nationally through 2015. In a review of that show, the Wall Street Journal called Liu “the greatest Chinese painter in the US.” Liu’s works have been exhibited extensively and collected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Los Angeles County Museum, among others. Liu currently lives in Oakland, California. She is Professor Emerita at Mills College, where she has taught since 1990.
The title of Hung Liu’s current show of editioned works on paper, Seedlings, has a double reference, both to young plants and to children. The exhibition at the Sherry Leedy Gallery is comprised of twenty archival pigment prints and hand-leafed monoprints, in which images from Liu’s paintings are layered on paper surfaces with gold- and silver-leaf. Drawing from the Dustbowl era photographs of young children (and sometimes their pets) by Dorothea Lange, as well as from her own closeup shots of dandelions about to go to seed, Liu’s paper works reflect the transitory forces of life, and the tender effort to stand against them for as long as possible. Whether migrant children of the Dustbowl or dandelion seeds, sooner or later all will be blown, like seedlings, to the winds. The hope embodied in these little dispersions is that their seeds will be sewn among other families and upon other hillsides. In this sense, the artist’s use of paper – rather than canvas or resin – is itself an expression of a certain lightness of being. Jeff Kelley 5.21.20
South, 2017 Archival pigment print 38.75” x 32” Edition of 8/9
Cotton Carrier (silver), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 7/9
Book Club (gold), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 9/9
Migrant Child: With Cat (silver), 2018 Monotype with hand leafing 28.75â€? x 24.75â€? Edition of 5/9
Tobacco Sharecroppers (silver), 2017 Monotype with hand leafing 33” x 32” Edition of 9 (PP)
Young Okie (gold), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 6/9
Migrant Child: With Puppy (silver), 2018 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 7/9
Dandelion with Small Bird (gold), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 3/9
Dandelion with Fishes (gold), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 3/9
Dandelion with Praying Mantis (gold), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 6/9
Dandelion with Red Bird (gold), 2017 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 9/9
Angel Wings (silver), 2019 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 31” Edition of 3/9
Water Catcher (Quenching), 2018 Archival pigment prints 32” x 31” Edition of 5/9
South - Gold, 2018 Monotype with hand leafing 36” x 35” Edition of 9/9
Migrant Child: With Kitty (gold), 2018 Monotype with hand leafing 32â€? x 31â€? Edition of 7/9
Migrant Child: With Bunny (gold), 2018 Monotype with hand leafing 32â€? x 31â€? Edition of 3/9
Cottonfield (silver), 2017 Monotype with hand leafing 32” x 41” Edition of 7/9
Open Sky, 2017 Archival pigment print 32” x 31” Edition of 6/9
HUNG LIU CV Education 1986: Master of Fine Arts Degree in Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego. 1981: Graduate Degree (MFA Equivalent), Mural Painting, Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, China. 1975: Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art and Art Education, Beijing Teachers College, Beijing, China. Academic Positions 2014 - Present: Professor Emerita, Mills College, Oakland, California 2001-2014: Professor of Art, Mills College, Oakland, California. 1995-2001: Associate Professor of Art, Mills College, Oakland, California. Awards 2018: Inaugural Artist Award, San Jose Museum, San Jose, CA 2018 2018: Inaugural Artist Award, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA, 2018 2017: “Hung Liu Day,” a proclamation by the City Council of Berkeley, CA, December 19, 2017 2016: Distinguished Woman Artist Award, 2016, the Council of One Hundred, Fresno Art Museum. 2011: Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award, Southern Graphics Council International, Statesboro, Georgia. 2009: Honor Award for Design, U.S. General Services Administration for the San Francisco Federal Building. 2009: UCSD Alumni Association, 50th Anniversary 100 Influential Alumni 2007: “Oakland Airport: Going Away, Coming Home,” Americans for the Arts Annual Public Art Year in Review Award. 2000: Outstanding Alumna Award, University of California, San Diego. Selected Solo Exhibitions “Hung Liu: This Land…,” Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York, NY, October 24 – December 7, 2019. “Hung Liu: The Long Way Home,” The Grace Museum, Abilene, TX, September 7, 2019 – February 22, 2020. “Hung Liu: Catchers,” Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 19 – August 30, 2019. “Hung Liu: Migrant Stories,” Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS, March 2 – August 18, 2019. “Unthinkable Tenderness,” Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, September 8 – October 27, 2018. “Fetching Water,” Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, ID, July 27 – August 25, 2018. “Hung Liu: Women Who Work,” In Conjunction with Liu’s Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, March 16 – April 4, 2018.
“Hung Liu In Print,” The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., January 19 – July 8, 2018. “Transformation: The Work of Hung Liu,” Loveland Museum, Loveland, CO, December 8, 2017 – February 18, 2018. “Hung Liu: Migrant Mother and Her Children,” The Byron Cohen Gallery and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, November 3, 2017 – January 20, 2018. “Daughters of China,” curated by Peter Selz and Sue Kubly, Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA, October 19, 2017 – January 20, 2018. “Promised Land,” Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA, April 29 – June 3, 2017. “We Who Work: Prints and Tapestries by Hung Liu,” Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA, March 3 – June 25, 2017. “Hung Liu: Scales of History,” Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA, September 28 - January 8, 2017. “Hung Liu: Daughter of China, Resident Alien,” American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C., September 10 – October 23, 2016. “Hung Liu: American Exodus,” Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York, NY, September 8 – October 22, 2016. “Drifters: Hung Liu,” Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, ID, June 27 – July 27, 2016. “Migratory Seeds: New Work by Hung Liu,” Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 17 – August 8, 2015. “ Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu,” Retrospective, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA, February 25 – May 24, 2015. “Hung Liu: Dandelions,” Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, February 21 – April 11, 2015. “Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu,” Retrospective, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, October 10, 2014 January 11, 2015 “Hung Liu: Prints and Tapestries,” La Salle University Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, September 17 – December 5, 2014. Public Art Projects 2016: “Highland Hospital Acute Tower Replacement Project,” Highland Hospital, Oakland, California. 2008: “Take Off,” San Francisco International Airport, International Terminal Gate A-5, San Francisco, California. 2006: “Going Away, Coming Home,” Oakland International Airport Terminal 2 Window Project, 10’ x 160’, Oakland, California. 2004: “Hearts in San Francisco,” Civic Center, Exterior Entrance of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California. 2002: “Above the Clouds,” Cerritos Library, commissioned by the City of Cerritos, California.
Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art 2004 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108 816.221.2626 sherryleedy.com
Byron Cohen Gallery byroncohen.com