Hung Liu – Fan
Dimensions: 44 x 32 x 6″
Medium: oil on canvas, lacquered wood, ceramics
Hung Liu’s Fan is an important work and in that it is an exquisite example of her early paintings of Chinese prostitutes, in which she points out the immense inequity within traditional Chinese culture. Like the beautiful ceramic vessels Liu places on the shelf, her placement of the young girl on the shelf insinuates that she was regarded as a beautiful object to be possessed. Liu found a box of old photographs of Chinese prostitutes upon her return to China for research. She was struck by how these women–some of them still young girls–appeared as nameless commodities. Their given names had been replaced with names like Lady Lily, Lotus, etc. Stripped of their identities in real life, Hung Liu gives these women memorials by providing beautiful places for their spirits to rest in her paintings.
Liu’s paintings are in collections of more than 50 museums internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMoMA, et al. Her greatly anticipated retrospective at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery opening date=May 21, 2021.
-Tonya Turner Carroll