Hung Liu

b. 1948

Born in Changchun, China; lives in Oakland, California.

Because I am looking for the mythic pose beneath the human figure, I derive my subjects from historical photographs taken in China, and of Chinese people. These become the basis for my paintings and prints, into which I introduce motifs from traditional Chinese painting, sometimes dating back as far as 2,000 years. These motifs, including images of birds, flowers, calligraphic writing, and segments of ancient landscapes, are suspended in the photo-based fields of the paintings and prints, allowing multiple layers of historical representation to co-exist in a manner resulting, I think, in a kind of mutually liberating tension.

This interweaving of images from the ancient and modern past continues my interest in a contemporary form of history painting in which the subjects from one era witness and comment upon those of another, keeping the idea of history open and fluid.

In these two new prints this creative tension exists both in stylistic and narrative terms. They may be seen as a diptych in which the young girls are understood as prior incarnations of the older, worn women, or perhaps members of a future optimistic generation with more possibilities open to them.

--Hung Liu (2003)