Hung Liu – Camp II


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Artwork Description

Camp II

Dimensions: 60 x 60″
Year: 2015
Media: oil on canvas

Hung Liu’s “Camp II” captures an moment shared between mother and son. Still and subdued, the mother gazes out at the viewer with her face in her hand. Her shoulders slouch forward, and painted in an almost monochromatic grey, green, and blue color scheme, she seems almost like a ghostly shadow emerging from the background. Seated before his mother’s feet, the small boy leans forward. His body is active, adn his hair even seems to blow in the breeze. Drips rain down from beneath the mother and son, and around the bluish tones, lie yellow highlights. Hung Liu’s poignant use of color in this piece provides a golden lining to a supposedly dismal or hopeless scene, imbuing the image with a newfound sense of optimism.

Liu first discovered the Dorothea Lange photographic archive in 2015. She immediately became fascinated by the struggles of the migrants in Lange’s Dust Bowl Era photographs. Liu is empathetic because like them, Hung Liu herself was forced to leave her home during the Cultural Revolution of her childhood in China. And ironically, like Dorothea Lange, Hung Liu used a camera (in Liu’s case a smuggled one) to document the struggles of the people she encountered during that time. This painting shows Liu’s fascination with the way we care for one another, even when we can barely care for ourselves. Liu explores the sensitivity of children in her current body of work titled “Catcher in the Rays.” Inspired by “Catcher in the Rye,” in which Catcher is the child who tries desperately to keep civilization from falling into an abyss, Liu paints children as resilient guides to show humanity a positive way forward.

By Sally Sasz, Morehead-Cain Scholar, Art History/English student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill