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New work by Oakland-based artist Hung Liu opens at San Jose Museum of Art
Hung Liu, still from Between Earth and Sky, 2013. Video projection. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.

SAN JOSE, CA.- The San Jose Museum of Art presents a surprising new installation by noted Bay Area artist Hung Liu this summer. Questions from the Sky: New Work by Hung Liu, on view June 6-September 29, 2013, represents a personal direction for Liu’s work, as well as a different medium. Liu is best-known for her lush paintings based on historical photographs of China. In Questions from the Sky, she contemplates the cycles of life, death, and memory in an installation of three videos: Black Rain, Candle, and Between Sky and Earth (all 2013). The videos are accompanied by paintings and digital prints on aluminum, as well as by a large wall painting that Liu will complete in a public performance on June 20.

Questions from the Sky is SJMA’s contribution to a Bay Area tribute to Hung Liu’s work that began with Mills College Art Museum’s presentation of Hung Liu: Offerings (January 23–March 17, 2013), followed by the Oakland Museum of California’s Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu (through June 30, 2013).

“Hung Liu’s art has always been marked by her extraordinary sense of empathy. She has long explored the tribulations and interior lives of everyday people, past and present,” said Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director. “This hypnotic new installation is Liu’s very personal meditation on the universal circle of birth, life, and death—on nature’s mortality and immortality. It is her gift to each of us, born of her experience of making peace with loss. Liu is one of the favorite artists represented in SJMA’s permanent collection, and it is a privilege to introduce a new aspect of her work to our visitors.”

The videos are based on snapshots that Liu made daily with her iPhone in the years preceding her mother’s death. These simple images of burning candles, fallen birds and deer, Buddha’s hand citrus fruit, and cloud formations reflect Liu’s contemplative state of mind at the time. For Liu, the images provoke us to consider how we remember those who have passed, in ways large and small.

Born in Changchun in 1948, a year before the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Liu experienced the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution first hand. She came to the United States in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego. One of the first people from mainland China to study abroad and pursue an art career, she moved to Northern California in 1990 to join the faculty at Mills College, Oakland, where she is a professor. She currently lives and works in Oakland.

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