Years of planning went into “Hung Liu: Passers-by,” a major solo exhibition scheduled to open Dec. 6 at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Artist Hung Liu, who experienced the Cultural Revolution and now lives in Oakland, Calif., was shocked when the Chinese culture ministry inexplicably canceled her show.
"My work is not really edgy or overly political. It just bears witness to history and humanity,” Hung said to the SF Chronicle. “I have no idea why the show was canceled but maybe China is not quite ready for my work.”
Some 31 paintings in the exhibition, including loans from U.S. museums, employ imagery referencing historical photographs from the U.S. and China within a cultural context. There are Dorothea Lange's destitute laborers, and Chinese counterparts, among other "on the margins" figures.
Nine paintings were rejected earlier on, including one with girls wearing gas masks and another depicting the artist herself holding a rifle in the Revolutionary Guard. In October, after advertisements had run and the logistics readied, China scrapped the entire show at UCCA, which attracts 1 million visitors annually.
“I never imagined that my work could be so powerful and threatening to one of the biggest nations in the world,” the artist commented. “The only response to this is to go back to my studio and keep doing my work, even better.”
Through Dec. 7, Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York is showing Hung Liu: This Land…