Hung Liu – Dragonflies
Dimensions: 80 x 140″
Medium: oil on canvas
This work is from a series, “First Spring Thunder” which revolves around the idea of a struggle to awaken in a dream, in memory, in the mind. Traditionally, the first spring thunder is a two-week season in China during which the insects awaken from their winter dormancy. The world is asleep and then it begins to wake up. In Liu’s paintings, however, that waking is not always innocent – it is slow and fitful, as if caught between life and a dream of life. The painting is based on imagery from a combination of Chinese historical photographs and traditional paintings, these works suggest that the difference between antiquity and modernity, utopia and terror, stillness and death, and silence and thunder is very thin, like a veil.
Flying insects are dancing all around them – or attacking like military aircraft. Given this double (and perhaps more sinister) reading, the images of insects, birds, and deer in Liu’s paintings serve as warnings of some impending catastrophe, or echoes of catastrophes past. Many of them are dead. Nothing is quite as it appears. The idea of first spring thunder rumbles like history through the Chinese mind. —Hung Liu and Jeff Kelly