Hung Liu Studio












January 2013
Hung Liu Studio Newsletter

Exhibition Previews


Village Photograph 10

Quick Links


Hung Liu Studio  



Join Our Mailing List

Welcome to the Hung Liu Studio Newsletter for January 2013. We are pleased to announce two upcoming exhibitions: Offerings, at the Mills College Art Museum, and Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu, at the Oakland Museum of California. While the latter is a career retrospective covering works from the late 1960s to the present (opening to the public March 16th), the project at Mills (opening on January 23rd) involves the reinstallation of two iconic works by Hung, Old Gold Mountain, a mound of 200,000 fortune cookies first installed at the De Young Museum in 1993, and Great Granary, a reinvention of a mural originally painted by the artist in 1981 at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, but destroyed when the academy moved to a new campus in 2001. These two exhibitions are conceived as complimentary - Hung's paintings and installations. If you live anywhere near the Bay Area, please come and visit the shows - the paintings at the Oakland Museum will look great and the fortune cookies at the Mills Museum will smell good!


Enjoy the newsletter!



Mills College Art Museum
January 23 - March 17, 2013


Jiu Jin Shan (Old Gold Mountain), 1993 (De Young Museum)

Recognized as one of America's most prominent Chinese artists, Hung Liu is know for paintings but has also created large-scale installations that have been important parts of her work throughout her career. This exhibition presents a rare opportunity to experience two of the Oakland-based artist's most significant installations: Jiu Jin Shan (Old Gold Mountain) (1994) and Tai Cang-Great Granary (2008). The exhibition examines the themes of memory, history, and cultural identity through works that navigate the complex and never-ending tension between emigration (with its emphasis on leaving one's original place) and immigration (with its emphasis on arriving in a new place).  Accompanied by related paintings and prints, Jiu Jin Shan and Tai Cang serve as memorials, or offerings, to the past while acknowledging the rapidly changing cultural dynamics of contemporary China and the world.

In Jiu Jin Shan (Old Gold Mountain), two hundred thousand fortune cookies create a symbolic gold mountain that sits at the intersection of two crossing railroad tracks. The junction where the tracks meet serves as a visual metaphor of the cultural intersection of East and West as well as a terminus for the dreams of many Chinese immigrants who perished during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Liu references not only the history of Chinese laborers who built the railroads to support the West Coast Gold Rush, but also the specific history of San Francisco. The city was named Old Gold Mountain by the Chinese migrant workers in the nineteenth century as an expression of the hope of finding prosperity in the new world. The individual fortune cookies - an early 20th century American culinary gimmick that is not even Chinese in origin - become substitutes for gold nuggets, while the pile of several hundred thousand fortune cookies serve the metaphorical roles of representing the allure of great wealth as well as he end of the line, since it looks like the the traditional Chinese burial mounds of Liu's Manchurian relatives.

Tai Cang-Great Granary, in its first presentation in the United States, consists of two major components. The first is a reinvention of an early mural Liu painted while in graduate school in China, in 1981, which featured the non-proletarian style of Han Dynasty figurines celebrating the 1978 excavation of the tomb of the Marquis Yi of the Zhong (the Bianzhong chime bells of the Warring States period), a major archaeological discovery of the time. Liu's new mural - with both digital and hand painted elements - is an attempt to remember the original one that was destroyed when the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing was demolished in in 2002.

The second element of the installation consists of 34 antique dou, a traditional Chinese food container and unit of measure. Each dou contains grain, cereal, or beans from each of the 34 provinces of China, and the dou are arranged on the gallery floor as a map of China. In revisiting Music of the Great Earth, Liu examines her own passage between two societies, their past and present, and the sense of impermanence that is basic to human experience.

Born in Changchun, China, in 1948, a year before the creation of the People's Republic of China, Hung Liu lived in Maoist China and experienced the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Trained as a socialist realist painter and muralist, she came to the United States in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she received her MFA. One of the first artists from mainland China to study abroad and pursue an art career, she moved to northern California in 1990 where she is a tenured professor in the Art Department at Mills College.


This exhibition is supported by the Agnes Cowles Bourne Fund for Special Exhibitions and the Helzel Family Foundation, and is planned in conjunction with the Oakland Museum of California's retrospective Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu.


Great Granary, installation, 2008, Xin Beijing Art Gallery, Beiijing









Summoning Ghosts
Oakland Museum of California
March 16 - June, 2013


By the Rivers of Babylon, 2000


Hung Liu's retrospective exhibition Summoning Ghosts: the Art of Hung Liu, at the Oakland Museum of California, allows one to discern the arc of a life as it bends from collective experience, political repression, and artistic orthodoxy to the invention of an individual (and yet international) language whose subjects, drawn from archival photography, are the dispossessed of Chinese history - prostitutes, peasants, orphans, immigrants, exotic types, prisoners, the condemned. They are the women and children of violent, revolutionary modernity, the ghosts on the other side of the photographic plate. By turning old photographs into new paintings, Liu brings her subjects out of the shadows of history and into the space of contemporary consciousness, where she offers them the stroke-by-stroke solace of her attention.


Band of Brothers
Band of Brothers, 2011

The exhibition Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu is the first comprehensive survey of the artwork of Hung Liu-one of the most prominent Chinese-American painters working in the United States today. Featuring approximately 80 paintings, as well as personal ephemera such as photographs, sketch books, and informal painting studies from private and public collections around the world, the exhibition celebrates Liu's career accomplishments and includes work completed in China before the artist arrived in the U.S. The exhibition explores the evolution of Liu's artistic practice, and investigates the complex interactions between individual memory and history, and documentary evidence and artistic expression.


Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu


Essays by Wu Hung, Yiyun Li, Rene De Guzman,  Karen Smith, Stephanie Hanor, Bill Berkson

216 pages

Oakland Museum of California & the University of California Press





Hung Liu's life experience, complex personal history, understanding of female identity, sensitivity to immigrant culture, and vigorous powers of expression have made her a one-of-a-kind artist. 


Ai Weiwei
November 2012



Hung Liu Studio

Thank You!
Hung Liu Studio