Hung Liu – Right Bend
Dimensions: 36 x 36″
Media: oil on canvas
Hung Liu’s Right Bend features her autobiographical symbol—the dandelion. In this portrait, Liu has painted images of Chinese prostitutes whose names were changed to those of flowers, and whose identities were lost. These women were forgotten by history, and their youth was stolen. They came to be known by such names as “Lily,” “Narcissus,” or “Little Peony” in calendars Chinese men would use as catalogues to choose their brothel partner.
When Hung Liu traveled across the US for her exhibition at American University, she realized that the humble dandelion lives across the world. She knew the dandelion in her homeland of China, and she saw its variations across the United States. Hung Liu adopted the dandelion as her autobiographical symbol, due to its properties of transformation and migration. Like Liu herself, the dandelion migrates and puts down strong roots wherever it lands. It begins its life as a beautiful flower, transforming as its life-span progresses, ultimately dissolving into the earth.
Hung Liu one of the most important contemporary artists internationally. She has overcome great challenges in her life as well as in her artistic career. Forced to leave her home in Changchun, China, Liu went on to live in Beijing and was then sent to the Chinese countryside to endure forced labor during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. There, Liu witnessed unimaginable hardship, and she resolved to give them remembrance in her paintings. The calligraphic birds and fish you see in the painting are an allusion to the greatness of Chinese culture from the past. Liu asserts that historical memory is essential in transforming humanity for better.
-Tonya Turner Carroll