Hung Liu Studio












Fall 2015
Hung Liu Studio Newsletter

+ New Website, A Look Back, A Look Ahead, Friends, Press, Publications

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Welcome to the Hung Liu Studio Newsletter, Fall, 2015. (And maybe Winter, too.)


One and a half years into retirement, and Hung has a new full-time job - going to the studio. This is a season of research - no exhibitions until summer (Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho). Then September (Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York; The Katzen Center for the Arts at American University in Washington, DC; The Fresno Art Museum). Until then, the work gestates.


This fall, Hung has travelled to three places to make prints (hark's Ink, in Colorado; Tamarind Institute, in Albuquerque; and Segura Studio at the University of Noter Dame, in Indiana), and served on a panel for the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York. Back Home, she worked with Paulson-Bott Press in Berkeley on a commission for Highland Hospital's new urgent care center. Classes from Mills and Berkeley have visited the studio, and an actual vacation to Hawaii was taken (where Hung made five drawings). Her works were also shown in group exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and at the Nevada Art Museum in Reno. 


For those of you who make it to the end of the "Friends" section of this newsletter, a surprise awaits. And we would again like to introduce the artist's new and very much improved (and continually improving) website! Check it out ...



Enjoy the newsletter & Happy Holidays!


Inside Magnolia Editions: Collaboration and Innovation
Museums of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA
December 12, 2015 - February 7, 2016


Under the direction of Don and Era Farnsworth since 1981, Magnolia Editions has been on the front lines of innovation, collaboration, and advocacy for timely and pressing social and political issues. 
Known primarily as a top-notch printmaking studio, their collaborative and signature experimental style has them working shoulder to shoulder with renowned artists from the San Francisco and New York regions, as well as other national and international contemporary artists eager to push their artistry and technical capabilities to new heights. Artists with a political voice find a simpatico home in Magnolia, collaborating to visually articulate important social messages, as can be seen in almost every work in this exhibition.
Magnolia's innovative output is visible through its experimentation with etching and intaglio printing, digital printing onto unusual and surprising substrates, digital photogravure methods, and projects merging painting and printmaking. Beginning in the 90's, Magnolia furthered its reputation for invention through its Jacquard tapestry editions, bringing a spirit of creative vigor and fresh energy to an old-world tradition. A unique set of proprietary color matching techniques developed by Magnolia digitally direct electronic looms in Belgium, putting an industrial technology in the service of contemporary fine artists. 
Magnolia's embrace of technology encompasses much of human ingenuity over the last 20,000 years. Within the exhibition, a chart created by Don Farnsworth shows the genealogy of artistic genius that has informed Magnolia's innovative mark-making possibilities. 

Exemplifying the creative spirit of Magnolia, Don Farnsworth states, "Often the mistakes are the most exciting. We can get swept away and stay there for weeks at a time: one wave catches the next, inspires the next; the influences of one artist spill over to another - like a creative riptide influencing other artists at the studio." The result has led to a sea change in how artists think about printmakers: as collaborators, even magicians, not mere operators of presses.

Randy Jayne Rosenberg, Exhibition Curator, Oakland, California

With three of Hung's eight prints "Music of the Great Earth, Variations," 2008

First Look: Collecting Contemporary at the Asian
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
September 4 - October 11, 2015

For the first time ever, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is presenting works from its collection of contemporary art. 
The exhibition features artists from Asia as well as from the United States. Yako Hodo abstracts the traditional art of basket weaving, while works by Yang Yongliang, Liu Xiaodong, 
and Xu Bing push Chinese ink painting into new media. 
First Look also features Bay Area favorites like Hung Liu and Zheng Chongjin.

Hung's works in the show are three paintings of Chinese shrimp junks based on 19th century archival photographs of boats in the San Francisco bay during the gold rush, between 1850 and 1885. At that time, a "long wharf" jutted into the bay at the present site of the Embarcadero Centers, for which the paintings were originally commissioned. In 2000, the paintings were gifted to the Asian and are here shown for the first time since then.

Hung Liu with "Long Wharf I, II, & III." Collection Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

At the press event

Tahoe: A Visual History
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno
August 22, 2015 - January 10, 2016

The Nevada Museum of Art has organized the first major art historical survey exhibition of painting, Native baskets, photography, architecture, and contemporary art dedicated to Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass, and the surrounding Sierra Nevada region. "
TAHOE: A Visual History" spans over two centuries of cultural and creative production related to the second deepest freshwater alpine lake in the United States. This historic show features more than 400 artworks.

As part of the show, Hung was invited to reinstall her well-known installation of fortune cookies and railroad tracks, "Jiu Jin Shan" (Old Gold Mountain). Although a smaller version, the fortune cookie mound with its single railroad track running beneath it cut a dramatic, even iconic image in a show about the visual history of Lake Tahoe, especially since 15,000 Chinese laborers punched the Union Pacific Railroad through the Sierra-Nevada Mountains in the 1860s. Ten percent, or 1,500 of those laborers, died during construction. Thus, Liu's "mound" of fortune cookies - a metaphor for the dream of gold during the California gold rush - serves as a memorial to the Chinese search for the American dream. It is also meaningful to know that in Liu's birthplace of Manchuria, the dead are buried in mounds of earth in the fields they worked during their lives - including many of the artist's ancestors. 


A Look Back

The De-Installation of Map No. 33
@ the Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco

"Map No. 33," a bold multimedia artwork in the Esplanade Ballroom Lobby of the Moscone Center, is Hung Liu's re-creation of the first survey map of San Francisco, drawn in 1839 by Jean Jacques Violet. Originally installed in 1992 by Atthowe Fine Arts Services, when the Moscone Center was new, it was recently de-installed, again by Atthowe, and placed in storage because the Moscone Center is itself about to be demolished and a new convention center built in its place. Thus, it is important to look back at this complex and socially-relevant public artwork.

The work's 41 canvases, shaped to conform to the historic map's city blocks, chart the young port town of San Francisco when it was still a village, newly renamed from the original "Yerba Buena." Initially, the tiny settlement clustered around a busy waterfront center called Portsmouth Square, which is now the hub of Chinatown and separated from today's port by acres of landfill. In 1991, Liu came upon the historic map during her research and was immediately intrigued by its oddly skewed geometry, eccentric drawing style and quill-penned script, she has painted trees and other images on the white wall background.


People From The Past

The painting is complemented by a selection of artifacts in display cases below. These archeological finds belonged to the Moscone site's 19th-cetury in habitants - mostly new comers who, in the wake of the Gold Rush, flocked to San Francisco from throughout the world. The idea to include artifacts occurred to Liu when she happened to spot, on a city engineer's desk, a number of small, dirt-encrusted items that had been excavated in 1978 from the Moscone Center construction site.

"I wanted," said the artist, "to combine a big-scale reference to the civic history of San Francisco with a more intimate experience of the particular historical artifacts that came from beneath the actual Moscone site - from beneath one's feet, so to speak." With the help of archeologist Alan Pastron, she identified objects dating from 1855 to 1906, the year of the San Francisco earthquake and fire. Some examples: a Chinese bowl, corroded pocket watch, soda bottles, pipes, wood dominoes, marbles and other household objects recall the everyday activities of the families and laborers who once lived and worked on that block.

The Earliest Inhabitants

To include references to the Moscone Area's earliest inhabitants, the Ohlone Indians, Liu made drawings of their possessions on glazed ceramic tiles set into the display cases. These objects, which date from 0 to 940 AD, were resurrected from a nearby burial ground - now the site of Yerba Buena Gardens - and have since been returned to the tribe for reburial.

A Message of Shared Identity

Of special poignancy for Liu was the recognition that she, like many of the immigrants to whom she pays tribute in her artwork, also came to the United States through the San Francisco port (in this case, the airport), so many years later. She says that the message of "Map No. 33' is that history, no matter how removed in time, is made by people who lived where we stand today. The work's various objects, excavated from one place yet representing a diversity of cultures, testify to our shared identity.

The Future

It may be hoped that "Map No.33," which belongs to the City of San Francisco, will one day be reinstalled in another historically meaningful San Francisco place. For while the original Moscone Center seems to have outlived it's late-twentieth century design, Liu's rich and complex installation still seems relevant to the city's identity now and in the future. 

Looking Ahead

In the Studio
New paintings based on photographs taken in the 1930s by Dorothea Lange


Working at the Dorothea Lange Archive, Oakland Museum of California

Trillium Graphics, Brisbane, CA
New Bastard Paintings, 2015

Baby Crane, 2015

With David Salgado of Trillium Graphics

Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque
New lithographs, 2015 

With printmaking student Candice, new director Diana Gaston, and master printer 
Valpuri Leila Elisabet Remling

Magnolia Editions, Oakland
New Tapestry, 2015

With Tallulah Terryll, Don Farnsworth, and Nicholas Price at Magnolia Editions, Oakland

Hemming the new tapestry at Magnolia Editions, Oakland

Shark's Ink, Lyons, Colorado
Scattered Seeds, lithographs, 2015

Bud Shark @ work

Paulson-Bott Press
Mono Print Commissions for the new Highland Hospital Urgent Care wing.

Renee Bott & Pam Paulson

Segura Studios, University of Notre Dame
New Lithographs, 2015

Master Printer Jill Lerner & Production Printer Jessica O'Hearn 

with Doug Franson Assistant Director and  the Director Joe Segura of Segura Arts Studio, University of Notre Dame, IN
With Doug Franson ,Assistant Director, and  Director Joe Segura of Segura Arts 
Studio, University of Notre Dame


 & Colleagues

With Richard Greene, founding partner of Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennish in San Francisco

With Deborah Oropallo and Mildred Howard at Sonoma Art Museum, Santa Rosa

With William Wiley at the Sonoma Art Museum, Santa Rosa

With Ben Blackwell and Ann Hatch at the Sonoma Art Museum, Santa Rosa

With Felix and Nichole Fein at the Sonoma Art Museum, Santa Rosa

With Samuel Levi Jones at ProArts in Oakland

With Manuel Ocampo at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

With Kerry James Marshall & Cheryl Lynn Bruce at Paulson-Bott Press.

With Maya Lin at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno

NMA Senior Curator and Assistant Director Ann Wolfe and Trillium Graphics master 
printer David Salgado 

With David Walker, Director, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno

With Joanne Northrup, Senior Curator, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno

With William L Fox, Director, Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art

With Jonathan Binstock, Director of the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester 

With Kim Sajet, Director, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

With David Mohr, painter (& former Mills Graduate student), Oakland

With Karin Oen, Curator of Contemporary Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

With Rupert Garcia at Bay Wolf Restaurant, Oakland

With Louis de Gassic, Chef, Bay Wolf Restaurant, Oakland

With Don & Era Farnsworth at Bay Wolf Restaurant in Oakland

With Jill & Michael Wild at Ippuku in Berkeley

With Jiao Tianlong, Curator, Denver Art Museum, at Hung's Oakland Studio

With Robbie Orme, Docent at the Palm Springs Art Museum, in Hung's Oakland Studio

With Bill La Gattuta and Rodney Hamon, retiring from the Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque

With John Roloff in San Francisco

With Barbara Shark at her home in Lyons, CO

Studio Manager Steuart Pittman in his gesso suit 

Diego Rocha, studio assistant, taking a break at storage

Bing Chen (Hung's best friend since 1962 in China) with a hand-made and hand-painted box she made for her grandchildren in Beijing, at Hung Liu's studio in Oakland

and ...

With each other, University of California, San Diego, 1985

Recent Press for Hung Liu

Los Angeles Times 

Her new paintings are portraits of the most humble of flowers - dandelions - and they are spectacular. 

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. "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 ...

Hung Liu: Questions from the Sky
Ed Hardy, Susan Krane
Hahrdymarks Press, 2015 

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