Hung Liu – Sanctuary


SKU: 26262

Artwork Description

Hung Liu – Sanctuary

Dimensions: 80 x 72 x 2″ unframed
Year: 2019
Medium: oil and gold leaf on canvas

Hung Liu Sanctuary was featured in Liu’s award-winning career retrospective at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and definitive monograph Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands. The painting is inspired by a Dorothea Lange photograph from 1935, titled “Mexican Mother in California.” The Library of Congress documentation adds “Sometimes I tell my children that I would like to go to Mexico, but they tell me ‘We don’t want to go, we belong here.'” That is a sentiment that Liu–a migrant herself–shared.

This work embodies the finest elements of Liu’s iconography: individuals whose names history might forget, but who Liu was determined to dignify. The colored contour lines that defined Liu’s works from her American series of Dust Bowl paintings are clearly evident in this work. The circle, which in previous works had appeared as a dripping gesture, appears to have migrated off the paint surface to become its own golden orb.

Liu painted her “Sanctuary” in 2019, when migrants were traveling by foot all the way from Guatemala and other Central American countries, , through Mexico in order to cross the U.S. border at record rates. Hung Liu paints “Sanctuary” as a reminder that all human beings, regardless of race or status, should be given the grace of hope. She also reminds us of our interconnected reality by presenting the quintessential mother and child image, which she has painted with Chinese and Black migrant workers, as well as this image of the Mexican mother and child.