Observing Hung Liu's Whisper (2011) at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York. It is always difficult to replicate how haunting and mysterious her subjects are; their stares are unsure, solemn and wise all at once. Seeing my sketch next to her painting, I realize that I've rendered mine too vacant and doll-like.
Her newer works depart more and more from her earlier drip paintings, but there is still evidence of it here. In this one, in which she calls "Jia Jung," Liu experiments with new medium: digital images of her previous paintings, mounted on resin and lithographically inked layers. Here, you can see how she painted on both sides of the transparent surface, so that some details are raised.
Although the situation of a woman sitting behind a blossoming tree seems innocent, there is something purposefully unsettling about the way Liu renders it: the woman is clearly stifled by social conventions, stuffed into a fur chi pao, bound and caged by branches and nature.
Accompanying me was S, studying Waiting for Rain II (2012). Although art history academics are told to avoid phrases such as "I love it" and "it's beautiful," I find Hung Liu's works consistently beautiful and powerful. Some people find the Sistine Chapel emotionally compelling, but for me, Hung Liu's works touch me so deeply that I often cry. It's unexplainable, and I do not expect everyone to feel the same. When I look at the women occupying her works, I think of my mother, grandmother, and previous generations who have experienced pain beyond anything I will ever know.
This is what art is supposed to do.d a n i e l l e