Hung Liu In Print

Two smiling Chinese girls with light skin and black hair painted on a collage of Chinese writing, small red envelopes, a red bird and bug, and blue paint drippings. The older girl, seen waist up, wears her hair in two braids and carries the younger girl in crimson clothes on her back.
Jan 19 to Jul 18, 2018

Hung Liu In Print invites viewers to explore the relationship between the artist’s multi-layered paintings and the palpable, physical qualities of her works on paper. To make her prints, Liu (1948–2021) used an array of printing and collage techniques, developing highly textured surfaces, veils of color, and screens of drip marks that transform the figures in each composition. Describing printmaking as “poetry,” she emphasized the spontaneity of the layering process, which allows each image to build organically with each successive layer.

Before immigrating to California in 1984, Liu grew up during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China, where she worked alongside fieldworkers and trained as a painter. Adapting figures from historical Chinese photographs, Liu reimagined antique depictions of laborers, refugees, and prostitutes. Her multifaceted oeuvre probes the human condition and confronts issues of culture, identity, and personal and national history.

Best known as a painter, Liu ably translated the “weeping realism” that characterizes her canvases into the medium of prints. This focus exhibition highlights selected prints from the collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts as well as the artist’s related tapestry designs.

A woman from early 20th century China lounging on her side resting her head on her hand and staring out at the viewer. She appears to be floating against a pale pink background and darker pink foreground with a white swan swimming in front of her.

Hung Liu, Untitled (from "Seven Poses" series), 2005; Digital print on paper, 14 x 14 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Greater Kansas City Area Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Hung Liu

Exhibition Sponsors

Hung Liu In Print, presented in the Teresa Lozano Long Gallery of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is organized by the museum and generously supported by its members.

Related Blog Post

Although Hung Liu (b. 1948, Changchun, China) works in a variety of mediums, her portraits are unified by a unique style characterized by richly colored veils of drip marks—an effect that makes her figures appear as if they are melting or obscured.
View of the museum from outside showing the Neoclassical building from one corner. The building is a tan-colored stone with an arched doorway, long vertical windows, and detailed molding around the roof.
Hung Liu, Sisters, 2000; Lithograph with chine collé on paper, 22 x 29 3/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Harry and Lea Gudelsky Foundation, Inc.; © Hung Liu