Hung Liu Studio












Fall/Winter 2014
Hung Liu Studio Newsletter

Summoning Ghosts @ the Kemper in Kansas City, Studio Visits (and Break-In), Friends, Press, Publications



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Welcome to the Hung Liu Studio Newsletter, Fall/Winter, 2014. 


Here, we focus on Hung's return to Kansas City for the opening at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art of "Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu," her retrospective exhibition organized last year by the Oakland Museum of California. Also highlighted are fun events like the studio Halloween break-in, some new paintings, and a look at a new museum in Clarinda, Iowa, founded by dear friends Karen and Robert Duncan. Finally, a new book, "Contemporary Chinese Art," by Wu Hung, is just out and it positions Hung Liu among the first wave of emigres from China to the US in the 1980s, along with Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, Gu Wenda, Zhang Hongtu, Chen Danqing, and Zhang Huan, among others. It is worth asserting the obvious: that Hung was the only woman. 

Kansas City is a great town. The Kemper Museum artfully displayed Hung's show. Many friends, old and new, came out for the events surrounding the opening. Our last day in KC was the final warm day of the season there, the temperature dropping 30 degrees the next day ... But the place overflows with warmth!


Enjoy the newsletter.


Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri
October 10 - January 11, 2015


Organized by the Oakland Museum of California in 2013, SUMMONING GHOSTS: THE ART OF HUNG LIU 

is the first comprehensive survey of the most prominent Chinese painter working in the United States today. Now exhibiting at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, its second venue of a three museum tour (to be followed at the Palm Springs Art Museum in February), the show features epic paintings, as well as photographs, sketch books, and informal painting studies from private and public collections. The exhibition celebrates Liu's career accomplishments and includes work completed in China before the artist arrived in the U.S. It also explores the evolution of Liu's artistic practice, which bears witness to the liminal, migratory space between collective memory and personal history, between photographic anonymity and painterly portraiture, between feminine exoticism and female strength, between an ancient culture and a new world, and between political ideology and individual will. 

The Exhibition



The Reception

(L-R) Nancy Hoffman, Erin Dziedzic, David Salgado, Walter Maciel, Toma Wolff, Hung Liu, Trish Bransten, Rena Bransten, Rene De Guzman, Michael Carroll, Eileen Cohen, Barbara Obrien. 




Shout Out ...



Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum





Ree Schonlau, Jun Kaneko, Karen Duncan, Robert Duncan, Hung Liu at the opening reception for the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum in Clarinda, Iowa, where the Duncans - legendary art collectors living in Lincoln, Nebraska - grew up. In 2012 they purchased the town's Carnegie Library, which was up for auction, and have begun to exhibit works from their collection for the benefit of local townspeople. This is one way of extending Andrew Carnegie's legacy of public philanthropy into this century.




Halloween Break In
On Halloween night one of the good citizens of Oakland crept across the roof, dropped into the compound parking lot, turned off the power, kicked in the studio door, and smashed the alarm pad. Thinking the alarm system was disarmed, the perpetrator was about to swipe the computer when the back up siren went off, driving the little bastard back out the door. The good gentlemen pictured below, from the Oakland Police Department, arrived some time later, gave us advice, and posed for a newsletter photo. New security measures, including an updated alarm system and steel security doors, have been put in place ...

Officers Perry and Rodriquez (new Hung Liu fans)

Oakland Gothic*    

*don't worry - it hasn't worked since 1973

Sneak Peek
Yellow Earth, oil on canvas, 80 x 80, 2014 (Courtesy Walter Maciel Gallery)

Dandelion - Devil's Tower, oil on linen, 2014 (Courtesy Walter Maciel Gallery)

Horse Year, oil on canvas, 82 x 89, 2014 (Courtesy Walter Maciel Gallery)

A Look Back

Artist-in-Residence, Sewell Elementary School, Henderson, Nevada, 1988


With Sherry Leedy, Eileen Cohen, Andy Wolff, and Toma Wolff in Kansas City

With gallerist Sherry Leedy and Erin Dzeidzic, Kemper Curator, in Kansas City

Jack & Karen Holland in Kansas City

With Bob & Kara Nugent of Imagery Winery and Joe Benziger of Benzinger Family Winery in Sonoma
(Hung's new label for Imagery, below)

With Nancy Hoffman in Kansas City

With Karen Duncan in Clarinda, Iowa

With Lisa James of the San Jose Museum of Art

With Robert Duncan in Kansas City

With Trish Bransten in Oakland

With Moira Roth, Lucy Lippard, and Sue Heinemann at Mills College



Recent Press for Hung Liu


Kansas City Star


In "Summoning Ghosts" at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Chinese-born artist Hung Liu quite literally "summons ghosts," bringing the dead and willfully forgotten into our view through large paintings based on 19th and 20th century photographs taken in China.



KQED Radio

Confined in China, Ai Weiwei Directs Alcatraz Exhibit from Afar (Hung Liu interviewed), Mina Kim, September 27, 2014 


"Celebrated Oakland painter Hung Liu is close friends with Ai. Liu grew up during China's Cultural Revolution under Mao Tse-Tung, and like Ai, China's politics and culture infuse her work. She is wary of political art becoming too didactic. 'When you have a strong political agenda, a strong message, you have to be careful if you want to use art form,' the painter says. Liu says she plans to take a serious look at Ai's Alcatraz work, and hopes others will get past his superstar status and do the same. 'Ai Weiwei's super-famous. Some people call him God Ai - Ai shen,' Liu says. 'I think it's little too far.' It's important for people to continue to think critically about Ai's work, Liu says - after all, people tried to make Mao a god, too." - Mina Kim


SF Chronicle

Many contemporary painters struggle to get history into their work without looking pretentious or ideologically motivated. But big events of the late 20th century weighed so heavily on the life of Oakland painter Hung Liu that she might have found it difficult to keep history out of her work. - Kenneth Baker


Square Cylinder


It's easy to marvel at how Liu's mix of abstraction and realism draw us into the past.  Yet virtuosity alone doesn't explain the emotional pull of her painting.  So I'll venture a theory: Since Liu works from photos, her painting process is analogous to the photochemical act of "fixing" an image in the darkroom from which pictures seemingly emerge out of nowhere. Liu performs a kind of psychic translation of that act, supplementing it with lived experience and an extraordinary level of empathy.  Result: she can paint from photos and literally "summon ghosts." - David Roth


KQED Radio

Hung Liu is good at summoning ghosts -- from memory and history. She's an Oakland artist born in China, and "Summoning Ghosts" is the title of a new retrospective of her work at the Oakland Museum of California. - Cy Musiker




Hung Liu is widely considered one of the most important Chinese artists working in America today. - Interview by Rachelle Reichert


Art Practical


The spare aesthetic of the exhibition currently on view at the Mills College Art Museum belies the fullness of the Bay Area artist and educator Hung Liu's major concern: history. - Ellen Tani


Art Practical

In February 1948, the artist Hung Liu was born in Changchun, in the far north of China. Only months later, the city was the site of a major siege by the People's Liberation Army. - Matthew Harrison Tedford


Contra Costa Times


She's internationally known for her dramatic paintings, which often layer historical images with scenes from her own life or those of everyday people who didn't make it into the history books. - Angela Hill


San Francisco Chronicle/SFgate


In the early 1970s, Hung Liu, who was being trained in the strict Social Realist style required of Chinese artists at the time, surreptitiously made small landscape paintings that contained no images of Chairman Mao, heroic soldiers or happy peasants. She hid them under her bed to dry. - Jesse Hamlin





Hot Off the Press ...

Chinese Contemporary Art
Wu Hung
Thames & Hudson

... Warm Off the Press

Qianshan: Grandfather's Mountain
Interview by Rachelle Reichert
Nancy Hoffman Gallery, 2013

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 Studio

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Hung Liu Studio