Hung Liu: Migration and Immigration and Contemporary Warrior
Sculpture by Wanxin Zhang
February 26th - March 22, 2009.
Hung Liu’s extraordinarily rich and complex paintings take Chinese history as their subject and are often based on previously existing photographs. Hung’s immigration to the United States has had a profound impact on her work, and the paintings and prints in this exhibition explore both the generations of Chinese who came to America in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the mass migration from the country to the cities—and sometimes back again—within China itself. Hung Liu was born in the People’s Republic of China in 1948 and emigrated to the United States in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she received her MFA in Visual Arts in 1986. She is currently Professor of Painting at Mills College in Oakland.
Inspired by the dramatic discovery in 1974 of the vast army of life-sized clay soldiers—known as the Qin Terracotta Army—that spent centuries guarding the burial tomb of China’s first emperor, Shi Huang Di, ceramic sculptor Wanxin Zhang has created his own platoon of imposing figures that, in the artist’s words, “express a new genre of warriors.” Zhang’s monumental men update the ideal of the “warrior” to encompass contemporary dress and accessories, such as business attire and “lunette” eyeglasses. Although arranged in a group, they are solitary figures that interact less with each other than with the past: modern people from an increasingly globalized world in dialogue with ancient Chinese history. Zhang’s labor-intensive process, which involves multiple sectional molds and firing the clay twice—once at 1900 degrees and a second time at 2200 degrees—also lends them an air of weariness, as if the warriors are expressing the efforts of their creation. Wanxin Zhang was born in 1961 in the Jilin Province of China. He moved to the United States with his family in 1992, and received his MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he now teaches sculpture.