Exhibition

Hung Liu: Drawing from Life and Death

Press Release

"Drawing from Life and Death," Hung Liu's exhibition of new paintings at the Rena Bransten Gallery, depicts subjects that are dead - a bird, several deer, a human cadaver - but which have been studied, photographed, and rendered from life. Encountered by the artist in the context of daily living - she came upon two dead deer while hiking near her Oakland home, a red-breated robin fell from the sky into her studio parking lot, and she was invited on several occasions to view cadavers at a local medical facility - these subjects allow us to re-imagine the canvas as a middle ground between life and death, a surface upon which the contemplative activity of painting touches, and perhaps awakens, the forms of ultimate stillness.

These canvases awaken as well the dead from the history of art, both Western and Asian. The epic painting of a human cadaver, for instance, named by Liu "Holy Saturday" (on that actual holiday), recalls such monumental works as Andrea Mantegna's The Dead Christ (1490), Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat (1793), Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic (1875), and a host of other lamentations, depositions, and descents from the cross. Suspended between the Christian crucifixion and resurrection, "Holy Saturday" also draws meaning from the ancient sleeping Buddhas that lie in repose throughout China and Southeast Asia, referring to the Buddha's passage from the material world of suffering to the transcendent state of Nirvana. The deer and birds, photographed in death by circling around them from above, bring to mind the late 19th century progressions of Eadweard Muybridge, but also the Apsaras (the flying angels) painted on the walls of the Buddhist caves in Dun Huang, China, where the artist studied in the 1970s.

A departure from her habit of painting from historical photographs, these studio sittings with the dead nonetheless continue her life-long interest in reclaiming ghosts from the past, be they images of prostitutes, soldiers, refugees, or - closer to home - the body of a still-warm fawn laying by the road. Taking it to the studio to her car, she photographed the fawn gently before turning it in to the city, getting on a plane, and flying to China. In her new paintings, Hung Liu has drawn the dead from life, and, perhaps, drawn life from the dead.

CLICK HERE for a pdf of the brochure, Hung Liu: Drawing from Life and Death. The brochure can also be purchased on Blurb.com at this link: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1280631

Liu was born in Changchun, China in 1948, and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. She emigrated from China to the US in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she received an MFA. She currently lives in Oakland and is a tenured professor in the art department at Mills College. Her work is included in major museum collections throughout the country.

"Drawing from Life and Death," Hung Liu's exhibition of new paintings at the Rena Bransten Gallery, depicts subjects that are dead - a bird, several deer, a human cadaver - but which have been studied, photographed, and rendered from life. Encountered by the artist in the context of daily living - she came upon two dead deer while hiking near her Oakland home, a red-breated robin fell from the sky into her studio parking lot, and she was invited on several occasions to view cadavers at a local medical facility - these subjects allow us to re-imagine the canvas as a middle ground between life and death, a surface upon which the contemplative activity of painting touches, and perhaps awakens, the forms of ultimate stillness.

These canvases awaken as well the dead from the history of art, both Western and Asian. The epic painting of a human cadaver, for instance, named by Liu "Holy Saturday" (on that actual holiday), recalls such monumental works as Andrea Mantegna's The Dead Christ (1490), Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat (1793), Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic (1875), and a host of other lamentations, depositions, and descents from the cross. Suspended between the Christian crucifixion and resurrection, "Holy Saturday" also draws meaning from the ancient sleeping Buddhas that lie in repose throughout China and Southeast Asia, referring to the Buddha's passage from the material world of suffering to the transcendent state of Nirvana. The deer and birds, photographed in death by circling around them from above, bring to mind the late 19th century progressions of Eadweard Muybridge, but also the Apsaras (the flying angels) painted on the walls of the Buddhist caves in Dun Huang, China, where the artist studied in the 1970s.

A departure from her habit of painting from historical photographs, these studio sittings with the dead nonetheless continue her life-long interest in reclaiming ghosts from the past, be they images of prostitutes, soldiers, refugees, or - closer to home - the body of a still-warm fawn laying by the road. Taking it to the studio to her car, she photographed the fawn gently before turning it in to the city, getting on a plane, and flying to China. In her new paintings, Hung Liu has drawn the dead from life, and, perhaps, drawn life from the dead.

CLICK HERE for a pdf of the brochure, Hung Liu: Drawing from Life and Death. The brochure can also be purchased on Blurb.com at this link: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1280631

Liu was born in Changchun, China in 1948, and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. She emigrated from China to the US in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she received an MFA. She currently lives in Oakland and is a tenured professor in the art department at Mills College. Her work is included in major museum collections throughout the country.

"Drawing from Life and Death," Hung Liu's exhibition of new paintings at the Rena Bransten Gallery, depicts subjects that are dead - a bird, several deer, a human cadaver - but which have been studied, photographed, and rendered from life. Encountered by the artist in the context of daily living - she came upon two dead deer while hiking near her Oakland home, a red-breated robin fell from the sky into her studio parking lot, and she was invited on several occasions to view cadavers at a local medical facility - these subjects allow us to re-imagine the canvas as a middle ground between life and death, a surface upon which the contemplative activity of painting touches, and perhaps awakens, the forms of ultimate stillness.

These canvases awaken as well the dead from the history of art, both Western and Asian. The epic painting of a human cadaver, for instance, named by Liu "Holy Saturday" (on that actual holiday), recalls such monumental works as Andrea Mantegna's The Dead Christ (1490), Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat (1793), Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic (1875), and a host of other lamentations, depositions, and descents from the cross. Suspended between the Christian crucifixion and resurrection, "Holy Saturday" also draws meaning from the ancient sleeping Buddhas that lie in repose throughout China and Southeast Asia, referring to the Buddha's passage from the material world of suffering to the transcendent state of Nirvana. The deer and birds, photographed in death by circling around them from above, bring to mind the late 19th century progressions of Eadweard Muybridge, but also the Apsaras (the flying angels) painted on the walls of the Buddhist caves in Dun Huang, China, where the artist studied in the 1970s.

A departure from her habit of painting from historical photographs, these studio sittings with the dead nonetheless continue her life-long interest in reclaiming ghosts from the past, be they images of prostitutes, soldiers, refugees, or - closer to home - the body of a still-warm fawn laying by the road. Taking it to the studio to her car, she photographed the fawn gently before turning it in to the city, getting on a plane, and flying to China. In her new paintings, Hung Liu has drawn the dead from life, and, perhaps, drawn life from the dead.

CLICK HERE for a pdf of the brochure, Hung Liu: Drawing from Life and Death. The brochure can also be purchased on Blurb.com at this link: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1280631

Liu was born in Changchun, China in 1948, and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. She emigrated from China to the US in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she received an MFA. She currently lives in Oakland and is a tenured professor in the art department at Mills College. Her work is included in major museum collections throughout the country.

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