Renowned contemporary Chinese artist Hung LIU (LIU Hung 刘虹) and Trillium Graphics master printer David Salgado have donated 55 works of art to the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art that exemplify the innovative mixed-media techniques they developed in which printed and painted elements are embedded in layers of resin to evocative, gestural effect.
“The JSMA’s traditional Chinese collection forms the foundation of our holdings, but we have few works by contemporary Chinese artists,” says Jill Hartz, JSMA Executive Director. “This is a truly transformative gift that will strengthen our collection and enhance both research and teaching by our curators, faculty, and students for years to come.”
According to Anne Rose Kitagawa, JSMA’s chief curator and curator of Asian art, “Because these works bridge the gap between traditional printmaking and painting, Hung playfully refers to them as za zhong, or ‘bastard paintings,’ acknowledging their hybrid nature.”
Developed for the artist as a proprietary technique by Trillium Graphics, the process’ medium of transparent resin allows the layering of images and gestures embedded in Liu’s oil paintings and other works to fully reveal themselves from surface to depth, as it were, within the visual field of each za zhong work.
“Liu’s subject matter references traditional China--especially women’s history—politics, cultural identity, memory, displacement, and social justice,” says Kitagawa. “Through her art she imparts dignity upon ignored or reviled members of society.”
In 2011, in recognition of the za zhong works produced at Trillium Graphics, Hung Liu received the Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking award from the Southern Graphics Council. Trillium is the proprietary owner and publisher of the za zhong works.
Liu was born in Changchun, China, in 1948 and grew up in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Following her high school graduation in 1968, she was sent to labor in the countryside for four years as part of Mao Zedong’s plan to “re-educate” members of the intellectual class. During this time, she photographed and drew portraits of peasant farmers and their families. In 1972, she went to study art and education at the Revolutionary Entertainment Department of Beijing’s Teachers College, from which she graduated in 1975. She then taught at the Jing Shan School and hosted a weekly televised art lesson called “How to Draw and Paint.”
A Professor Emerita at Mills College in California, Liu is known primarily for her rich, colorful paintings based on historical photographs of Chinese prostitutes, refugees, street performers, soldiers, laborers, prisoners, and children, which she envelopes in veils of dripping linseed oil that, in her words, “both preserve and destroy the image.” In this way, she invents what she calls “weeping realism” that brings faded photos back to life, “summons ghosts,” and expresses the passage of time and the erosion of memory.
David Salgado is the founder, director and owner of Trillium Graphics. Trillium has been making prints and creating cast resin mixed media with prominent bay area artists since 1979. These artists include Nathan Oliveira, Wayne Thiebaud, William Wiley, Paul Wonner, Joseph Raffael, Morris Graves, Theophilius Brown, Eric Fischl, Enrique Chagoya, and Liu Xiao Dong.
As an academic art museum, the JSMA plans to use the Hung Liu za zhong acquisitions as the basis for a series of courses that will culminate in a special exhibition produced in collaboration with University of Oregon faculty and students. Already, two of the works are on display, one in a Chinese exhibition entitled “Reflections of the Cosmic Web: Intricate Patterns in Daoist Art,” on view through April 2019 and the other in the recent-acquisitions show, “A Decade of Collecting,” on view through September 2, 2018.