Hung Liu – Bride
Dimensions: 50 x 50″
Media: mixed media on panel
This mixed media painting is part of the body of work Hung designated to fund the endowment of a scholarship for an artist at the University of Oregon. In acquiring this work, you will be contributing to the future of contemporary art in our world. Thank you!
Hung Liu, working with master printer David Salgado, developed a unique method of creating her mixed media works in which she places layers of resin, paint, and metal leaf on panel. This process creates the impression of great depth in her works, as well as a sheen reminiscent of Chinese porcelain. The inspiration for this technique came from her public art installation at the Oakland Airport, titled “Going Away, Coming Home,” where she had the opportunity to paint on glass. She loved the way the sunlight emanated through the translucent layers of paint. This led her to seek the same luminescence in other of her works. These mixed media resin works could be described as illuminated paintings, for multiple reasons. One reason is the fact that these mixed media resin works begin with metal leaf (often gold) on panel, in the same the manner as a Russian icon would be painted. The gold represents the sanctity of the subject; a covering of the natural world (represented by the wooden panel’s surface) with the sacred and pure. Another reason these works can be regarded as “illuminated” is the obvious implication of light emanating from within them as light bounces off the base layer of metal leaf and reflects back through the layers of paint.
Hung Liu’s mixed media resin works are included in numerous important museums throughout the world; among them the San Jose Museum of Art and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which boasts the largest collection of these works and is curating a comprehensive exhibition and book documenting them. Hung Liu is honored that one of these works was included in the major exhibition “Gold” featuring important artworks throughout the history of art that have included gold leaf, at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria.
An 1871 photograph of an anonymous Manchu bride by John Thompson served as the basis for the painting upon which Liu’s painting, September, is based, which Liu completed following the events of September 11th, 2001. The Bride mixed media work was inspired by this painting. The expression of the bride in Thompson’s photograph, Liu says, reflected a moment of uncertainty, a feeling of being at the brink, which she saw echoed in the collective emotional response to the 9/11 attacks. In Liu’s re-imagining, the bride is endowed with the delicate strength and elegance of the wild bird in flight, whose design Liu based on a 10th-century Song dynasty ink painting. Traditionally painted with its head up, the head of Liu’s duck is instead deliberately bowed, as if in mourning or descent. In the wake of 9/11, the artist told me, “the bride symbolizes people involuntarily wed to an unexpected relationship – a new era in our political consciousness.”
Ultimately, September’s vibrancy is reminiscent of those moments in life – whether tragic or hopeful – when our adrenaline and excitement heighten the senses, making colors brighter and passions stronger. These moments where the beauty all around us is suddenly revealed, blooming like the colors surrounding Liu’s bride, are made both more powerful and more fleeting by the knowledge that afterwards, our lives will never be the same.