Hung Liu – Dandelion with Red Bird
Dimensions: 31 x 32″
Media: Monotype with hand leafing and hand coloring
Hung Liu has come to adopt the dandelion as a personal symbol, as they can be found anywhere in the world and thrive wherever they are planted. Their fluffy white heads carry seed pods that are migratory and can survive a journey across vast landscapes – even across oceans – and take root anywhere in the world. For Liu, the dandelion represents her own tenacity and ability to thrive in the face of adversity and hardship.
The dandelion became a focal point for the artist during a road trip in the summer of 2014, when she took numerous photographs of the commonplace flowers in fields. Rendered from these close-up photographs at various national parks and historical sites around the Western U.S., the dandelion images, which may be tattered by a sudden breeze or left whole, each required a different style of painting. In her large-scale paintings based on the photos, most of the depicted dandelions are past their yellow bloom and gone to seed — paradoxically dying while spreading life.
Hung Liu became widely known in the United States for her paintings of Chinese workers and concubines, whom she encountered while she worked alongside them in the fields of the Chinese countryside during the years she was being “re-educated” via the Cultural Revolution. Hung Liu follows the Chinese cultural tradition of “calling spirits home” after death. Liu feels that lest these workers and concubines are forgotten and their spirits never “called home,” she should prepare a place for them to rest for eternity. Thus, she creates gorgeous, quasi-imperial homes for them in her paintings.
Recently, Liu has found herself drawn to the Dust Bowl era photography by Dorothea Lange. Though Lange’s subjects are American, rather than Chinese like Hung Liu’s actual ancestors, Liu sees herself in the migrant workers Lange photographed. Hung Liu has started a series of paintings inspired by Dorothea Lange’s imagery, and this body of paintings has been exhibited in major institutions throughout the United States, including at Turner Carroll Gallery’s exhibition “Hung Liu: American Dream.“