Hung Liu

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Hung Liu (刘虹) (born February 17, 1948) is a Chinese-born American contemporary artist.

Life and career[edit]

Hung Liu was born in Changchun, People's Republic, China, in 1948, and immigrated to the United States in 1984. She attended Beijing Teachers College in 1975 and studied mural painting as a graduate student at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.[1] She is a class of '86 alumna of UC, San Diego. Her paintings and prints often make use of anonymous Chinese historical photographs, particularly those of women, children, refugees, and soldiers as subject matter. Liu's paintings - often large, drippy, and washed with layers of linseed oil - can be seen as critiques of the rigid academicism of the Chinese Socialist Realist style in which she was trained, as well as metaphors for the loss of historical memory. One of the first Chinese artists to study in the U.S., Liu's works represent the ongoing tension between emigration and immigration. Liu has received numerous awards, including two painting fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her work is represented in the permanent collections of major museums and private collections throughout the United States and Asia. She is currently the Professor Emerita of Painting at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Summoning Ghosts[edit]

Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu is a currently touring exhibition in the United States, featuring a retrospective collection of Liu’s work of around 80 paintings and an assortment of photographs, studies, and sketchbooks. It is the most extensive exhibit of her work, with pieces from more than 40 collections displayed. These pieces all pull from her personal history and experiences of the Maoist regime, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, as well as drawing from themes of Ancient China.[2] Réne de Guzman, the chief curator at the Oakland Museum of California, organized the exhibit in collaboration with Hung Liu. The artist describes the exhibit a “…full circle. Where I come from, what I was interested in, and what was possible to do in China.”[3]

Summoning Ghosts opened at the Oakland Museum of California, running from March 16 to June 30, 2013.[4] The exhibit is currently on display at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art from October 10, 2014 to January 11, 2015 and will then appear at the Palm Springs Art Museum to conclude its tour.[5]

Exhibit Overview[edit]

The exhibit features pieces from throughout Hung Liu’s artistic career, beginning from the late 1960s.[6] Themes of Summoning Ghosts include themes of history, memory, and human life. The exhibited works also feature Hung Liu’s typical style of dripping paint and layered brushstrokes.[7] This dripping is described by art critic Bill Berkson as “analogous to memory” and how “[memory] is blurred.”[8] It is the opposite of Socialist Realism, through a mix of surrealism and an absence of the Socialist political drive.[9]

Exhibit Details[edit]

Summoning Ghosts includes a series called “My Secret Freedom,” featuring a collection of miniature paintings made while Hung Liu lived in pastoral China, where she worked in fields during the Cultural Revolution.[10] These paintings depict scenes of everyday life, from houses, bushes, and canals. The title emerges from the ban of non-sanctioned art of the Maoist Regime.[11]

Many of her paintings in the exhibit are inspired by her personal collection of 19th century Chinese photographs, with a large portion that feature prostitutes. Liu believes her paintings “gives a spirit to them, the forgotten.” [7]

The exhibit brings details of Chinese history and memory into the present for American viewers.[12]


  1. ^ Kara Kelly Hallmark, Encyclopedia of Asian American Artists, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p115. ISBN 0-313-33451-X
  2. ^ "Biography". Hung Liu. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Oakland Museum of California. "Summoning Ghosts: Full Circle". Youtube. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu Exhibition". Oakland Museum of California. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Current Exhibit". Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Reichart, Rachelle. "Artist Interview: Hung Liu". Art-Rated. 
  7. ^ a b Tsui, Shu-chin. "‘Summoning Ghosts’ with Artist Hung Liu". Bowdoin College in the News. Vimeo. 
  8. ^ "Hung Liu Spark* Interview". KQED Arts. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Musiker, Cy. "A Woman Who Can Summon Ghosts". KQED News. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Hung Liu". Nancy Hoffman Gallery. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Summoning Ghosts: An Interview with Hung Liu". Youtube. Oakland Museum of Art. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Guzman, Réne de (2013). Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu. UC Press. 

External links[edit]