Artists

LIU Xiaodong

LIU Xiaodong

LIU Xiaodong was born in 1963 in Jincheng, a town in the Liaoning Province in China. He moved in 1978 to Beijing and later graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

As other artists of his generation turn away from more traditional forms of painting, LIU continues to capture the realism of life and his technique has matured into "slack expressionism" where a sense of immediacy and familiarity permeates throughout his paintings, further accentuated by his disinterested interpretation of the subject matter; this familiarity becomes the basis of a dialogue between artist and viewer.

The affection he has for people is the starting point of his work, which gradually spreads into the field of social implication. The life of man and their body, the texture of air and objects are the few vital points of LIU's work.

He is on the constant search of the subtle gap that separates painting and other artistic forms, and he has found his answer in the sentimental demand of painting as a craftsmanship. LIU values painting as a movement. He says "the process of painting brings surely a body language, and this is what makes painting irreplaceable. It is coagulation rather than instantaneity that is at the core of painting."

Rather than some specific brush technique, it is the social environment and situations that make up the "Realistic" core of Liu's works. This realism is moving away from the social realism of the past- a movement that despite its name relied on an artificial setting of themes. LIU refrains from placing his models within his own subjective nostalgia; instead he locates them firmly in the breathless and ever-changing transformation of Chinese society.

 

1963

Born in Jincheng, Liaoning Province, China

1988

B.F.A., Oil Painting Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China

1995

M.F.A., Oil Painting Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China

1998~1999

Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Complutense University of Madrid,

 

Madrid, Spain

1994~

Currently teaches in the Oil Painting Department, Central Academy of Fine

 

Arts, Beijing, China

Solo Exhibitions

2016

“LIU Xiaodong in South Africa”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

 

“Liu Xiaodong: Migrations”, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy

2015

“Painting as Shooting”, Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice, Italy; Faurschou

 

Foundation Beijing, 798 Art District, Beijing, China

 

“Diary of an Empty City”, Faurschou Foundation Beijing, 798 Art District,

 

Beijing, China

2014

“LIU Xiaodong in Indonesia”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

 

“Childhood Friends Getting Fat—Moving Image of Liu Xiaodong 1984-2014”,

 

Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China

 

“Liu Xiaodong’s Two Projects”, Shao Zhong Foundation Art Museum,

 

Guangzhou, China

 

“Liu Xiaodong: 25 Oil Paintings from 1993-2007”, Yallay Gallery, Hong Kong,

 

China

2013

“LIU Xiaodong—Hometown Boy Print Series”, ESLITE GALLERY Project One,

 

Hong Kong, China

 

“In between Israel and Palestine”, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA

 

“Hometown Boy”, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA

 

“Liu Xiaodong: Half Street”, Lisson Gallery, London, England

 

“Liu Xiaodong in Hotan”, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

2012

“The Process of Painting”, Graz Art Museum, Graz, Austria

 

“Liu Xiaodong in Hotan”, Xinjiang Arts Center, Urumqi, China

 

“Liu Xiaodong and Yan Pei Ming, Dual Exhibition”, Massimo de Carlo Gallery,

 

Milan, Italy

2011

“Hometown Boy: LIU Xiaodong”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2010

“LIU Xiaodong: Hometown Boy”, Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts, Beijing,

 

China

 

“LIU Xiaodong: Yan’ Guan Town”, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA

2009

“Traces: LIU Xiaodong”, Angle Gallery, Beijing, China

2008

“Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Beijing Girls: New Paintings by LIU Xiaodong”,

 

Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA

2007

“LIU Xiaodong Solo Exhibition 2007”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

 

“The Richness of Life: The Personal Photographs of Contemporary Chinese

 

Artist LIU Xiaodong 1984-2006”, Timezone 8, Beijing, China


2006

“The Three Gorges Project: Painting by LIU Xiaodong”, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, USA

 

“LIU Xiaodong: Painting from Life”, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou,

 

China

 

“Hot Bed: A Painting Project by LIU Xiaodong”, Tang Contemporary Art,

 

Bangkok, Thailand

 

“LIU Xiaodong’s New Works: Domino”, Xin Beijing Art Gallery, Beijing, China

2005

“Childhood Friend Getting Fat”, LOFT Gallery, Paris, France

 

“Sketches from the Battlefield: Portraits of the New 18 Disciples of Buddha”,

 

ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2004

“Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art —18 Solo Exhibitions”, Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art, Kinmen, Taiwan

 

“Three Gorges: Displaced Population & Three Gorges: Newly Displaced

 

Population”, China Blue Gallery; China Art Archives and Warehouse, Beijing,

 

China

2003

“Liu Xiaodong: State of Survival”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2002

“LIU Xiaodong at Donghai”, Art Center of Donghai University, Taichung, Taiwan

2001

“Liu Xiaodong”, LOFT Gallery, Paris, France

2000

“LIU Xiaodong 1990-2000”, Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing,

 

China

 

“LIU Xiaodong and His Time”, LIMN Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA

1990

“Liu Xiaodong”, Central Academy of Fine Arts Gallery, Beijing, China

 

 

Group Exhibitions

2016

“Fusion—Chinese Modern and Contemporary Art since 1930s / Inaugural

 

Exhibition of Wanlin Art Museum of Wuhan University”, Wanlin Art Museum of

 

Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

 

“What about the Art? Contemporary Art from China”, QM Gallery Al Riwaq,

 

Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar

 

“Bentu: Chinese Artists in a Time of Turbulence and Transformation”, Fondation

 

Louis Vuitton, Paris, France

 

“Memory of Times—Minsheng Collection Exhibition for China Minsheng Bank

 

20th Anniversary”, Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing, China

2015

“The Exhibition of Annual Contemporary Art of China 2014”, Minsheng Art

 

Museum, Beijing, China

 

“The Civil Power—Beijing  Minsheng Art Museum Opening Exhibition”, Beijing 

 

Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing, China

 

“The Temperature of History—CAFA and Chinese Representational Oil Jingling

 

Painting”, China Art Museum, Shanghai; Ancestral Temple Art Gallery, Beijing;

 

Art Museum, Nanjing, China

 

“Chinese Utopias Revisited——The Elephants”, BOZAR Center for Fine Arts,

 

Brussels, Belgium

 

“Chinese Freehand—National Art Museum of China Academic Invitational

 

Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

“Tradition and Innovation: The Human Figure in Contemporary Chinese Art”,

 

Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

2014

“Bloom: ESLITE GALLERY 25th Anniversary”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei,

 

Taiwan

 

“Re-View: Opening Exhibition of the Long Museum, West Bund" , Long

 

Museum (Pudong), Shanghai, China

 

“Central Academy of Fine Art High School 60th Anniversary Exhibition”, 

 

National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

“Resonance: Exhibition of Teachers from China Central Academy of Fine Arts”,

 

Indonesia National Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia

 

“Heartbeat, Beijing: 55th Venice Biennale Parallel Exhibition”, China Millennium

 

Monument World Art Museum, Beijing, China

 

“Harmonious Society—Asia Triennial Manchester 14”, Centre for Chinese

 

Contemporary Art, Manchester, UK

 

“10th Gwangju Biennale”, Gwangju, South Korea

2013

“Host and Guest”, Tel Aviv Art Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel

 

“Portrait of the Times: 30 Years of Contemporary Art”, Power Station of Art,

 

Shanghai, China

 

“From Beijing—Works by the Faculty of China Central Academy of Fine Arts”,

 

New York Academy of  Art, New York, USA

 

“CAFA  Professors: Special Exhibition of the Works of Central Academy of Fine

 

Art Professors” Central Academy of Fine Art Museum, Beijing, China

2012

“Face”, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China

 

“Visionary: Contemporary Art from China Central Academy of Fine Arts”,

 

Wimbledon College of Arts, London, England

2011

“Museum on Paper: Twelve Chinese Artists”, Iberia Center for Contemporary

 

Art, Beijing, China

 

“Opening of Chengdu MOCA Collecting History—China New Art”, Chengdu

 

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chengdu, China

 

“A New Horizon: Contemporary Chinese Art”, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia

2010

“The Official Opening of Minsheng Art Museum—Thirty Years of Chinese

 

Contemporary Art 1979-2009”, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China

 

“Rehearsal: 8th Shanghai Biennale”, China Art Museum, Shanghai, China

 

“Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition”, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,

 

USA

 

“The Power from Academy—CAFA Contemporary Art Exhibition ”, Central

 

Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing; Times Museum, Guangzhou, China

 

“The State of Things: Contemporary Art from China and Belgium”, National Art

 

Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

“Reshaping History: Chinart from 2000 to 2009”, China National Convention

 

Center, Beijing, China

 

“Zaoxing—Artwork from the Faculty of the Central Academy of Fine Arts”,

 

Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing, China

2009

“10th Havana Biennial”, Morro Castle, Havana, Cuba

 

“Collision—The Cases of Contemporary Chinese Art Experiments”, Central

 

Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing, China

 

“Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art”, Smart

 

Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Chicago; Salt Lake Art Center, Salt

 

Lake City; Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, USA

2008

“21st Century China: Art between Identity and Transformation”, Palazzo delle

 

Esposizioni, Rome, Italy

 

“Waiting on the Wall: Chinese New Realism and Avant-Garde in the Eighties

 

and Nineties”, Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands

 

“Half-Life of a Dream: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Logan Collection”,

 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA

 

“Now in Coming: Works of Liu Xiaodong, Qin Qi, and Wang Yin”, At Art 3

 

Contemporary Art Space, Beijing, China

 

“Case Studies of Artists in Art History and Art Criticism”, SZ Art Center, Beijing,

 

China

2007-2008

“Facing the Reality: Chinese Contemporary Art”, Ludwig Contemporary

 

Museum, Vienna, Austria; National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

2007

“ART LAN @ ASIA”, ZAIM, Yokohama, Japan

 

“Korea-China Contemporary Art Exhibition: Phantom Giants”, Sejong Museum

 

of Art, Seoul, South Korea

 

“Made in China: Works from the Estella Collection”, Louisiana Museum of

 

Modern Art,  Humlebaek, Denmark; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

 

“The Painting of Modern Life”, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London,

 

UK

 

“Awakening from A Ten-Year Long Sleep 1997-2007”, H.J.Y. Contemporary Art

 

Center, Beijing, China

2006-2007

“Spirit and Character—Chinese Contemporary Realism Oil Painting Research

 

Exhibition”, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai; National Art Museum of China,

 

Beijing, China

2006

“15th Biennale of Sydney: Zones of Contact”, Sydney, Australia

 

“Spreading Realism—Oil Painting from China Mainland since 1978”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

 

“Art in Motion”, Museum of Contemporay Art, Shanghai, China

2005

“The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art”, China Millennium Monument

 

World Art Museum, Beijing, China

 

“Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection”, Bern Museum,

 

Bern, Switzerland

 

“The 2nd Beijing Biennale”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

“Up and Down the River: The Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition in New Era”,

 

National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

“Archeology of the Future: The 2nd Chinese Art Triennial”, Nanjing Museum,

 

Nanjing, China

 

“Wang Guangle, Yin Chaoyang, Men Xinxi, Xia Xiaowan, Liu Xiaodong Art

 

Show”, Art 110 Gallery, Beijing, China

2004

“Dreaming of the Dragon’s Nation: Contemporary Art from China”, Irish

 

Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland

 

“Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art from China and the US”, Samek Art

 

Gallery, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, USA

 

“Feel Memory”, Yibo Gallery, Shanghai, China

2003

“Alors, La Chine?”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

 

“1st Beijing International Art Biennial”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing,

 

China

 

“3rd Exhibition of Chinese Oil Painting”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing,

 

China

 

“The Nude: Ideal and Reality—From Neoclassicism to Today”, Bologna Modern

 

Art Museum, Bologna, Italy

 

“The First Ray of the East : The Adventure of 20th Century Chinese Painting”,

 

Palais de la Porte Doree, Paris, France

2002

“1st Guangzhou Triennial: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990-2000)”,

 

Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

 

“Contemporary Chinese Art”, Goedhuis Gallery, New York, USA

 

“Chinese Contemporary Art”, Brazilian Art Museum, Sao Paulo, Brazil

 

“East + West—Chinese Contemporary Art”, Vienna Artist House, Vienna,

 

Austria

 

“Beijing-Paris”, Paris, France

2001

“China Art Now”, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

 

“Towards a New Image: Twenty Years of Contemporary Chinese Painting”,

 

National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai;

 

Sichuan Art Museum, Chengdu; Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China

 

“Academic and Un-Academic”, Yibo Gallery, Shanghai, China

 

“The First Image: Contemporary Works on Paper”, Shanghai Art Museum,

 

Shanghai, China

2000

“Shanghai Biennial: Shanghai Spirit”, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

 

“Chinese Art in the 20th Century”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

“The New Face of China”, Ray Hughes Gallery,  Sydney, Australia

 

“Painters’ Works on Paper”, travelling to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang,

 

Hangzhou, Changsha, and Guangzhou, China

1999

“Gate of Century: 1979-1999 Chinese Art Invitational Exhibition”, Chengdu

 

Museum of Modern Art, Chengdu, China

 

“Upriver Museum’s Collection”, He Xiangning Museum, Shenzhen, China

 

“Dong Yu Museum’s Collection”, Dong Yu Museum, Shenyang, China

 

“1999 China Art”, LIMN Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA

1998

“East Meets East in the West”, LIMN Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA

 

“Representing the People”, Tyne and Weir Museums, Newcastle; Midlands Arts

 

Centre, Birmingham; The Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, UK

 

“Upriver Museum Collection”, Upriver Art Museum, Chengdu, China

1997

“47th Venice Biennial Art Exhibition”, Venice, Italy

 

“8+8-1: Selected Paintings by 15 Contemporary Artists”, Schoeni Art Gallery,

 

Hong Kong, China; Connaught Brown, London, UK; Vierte Etage Gallery,

 

Berlin, Germany

 

“’97 Asia Art Show”, Dhaka, Bangladesh

 

“Chinese Portrait in the Last 100 Years”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing,

 

China

1996

“The Power of the Line II—Drawings by Contemporary Artists from New York,

 

Beijing, Taiwan and Hong Kong”, Duchamp Gallery, Gaoxiong, Taiwan

 

“First Exhibition of the Association of Chinese Oil Painters”, National Art

 

Museum of China, Beijing, China

1995

“Contemporary Chinese Oil Painting from Realism to Post Modernism”, Galerie

 

Theoremes, Brussels, Belgium

1994

“Between East and West: Transformation of Chinese Art in the Late Twentieth

 

Century”, The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, USA

 

“Transformation”, Mark Tansey Studio, New York, USA

 

“LIU Xiaodong & YU Hong's Works”, OIPCA East Village, New York, USA

 

“The Power of the Line—Contemporary Sketches by Chinese Artists from New

 

York, Beijing and Hong Kong”, Artland Gallery, Hong Kong, China

 

“New Art from China: Post 1989”, Marlborough Gallery, London, UK

1993

“China’s New Art, Post 1989”, Hong Kong Arts Centre; Hong Kong City Hall, Art

 

Hong Kong; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada; University of Oregon

 

Museum, Eugene; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne; Salina Arts Centre,

 

Salina; Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose,

 

USA

 

“Figurative Oil Painting Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing,

 

China

 

“Red Star Over China”, Keen Gallery, New York, USA

 

“Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibition”, Z Gallery, New York, USA

1992

“Art Today in China”, California Art Institute, Valencia, USA

1991

“20th Century: Chinese Art Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing,

 

China

 

“China Annual Oil Painting Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing,

 

China

1989

“China / Avant-Garde”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

1988

“The Sketch Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

 

 

Filmography

2012

Hometown Boy awarded “Magical Hour Award” and “Special Jury Award” by

 

The 28th Warsaw International Film Festival,” Poland and “Grand Prize,” “Best

 

Documentary” and “Best Director” by The 14th Taipei Film Festival, Taiwan

2011

Conceived concept for HOU Hsiao Hsien’s Hometown Boy, awarded “Best

 

Documentary” by the 48th Golden Horse Award, Taiwan

2006

Conceived concept for JIA Zhangke’s film Dong, chosen as “Best Documentary

 

Film of the Year” by both the Italian and European Film Associations

 

Conceived concept for JIA Zhangke’s film Still Life, awarded the “Golden

 

Lion” at the 63rd Venice Film Festival, Italy

1993

Served as artistic director for director ZHANG Yuan’s film Beijing Bastards

1992

Starred in The Days, directed by WANG Xiaoshuai and  chosen by BBC as one

 

of the best 100 films of the century

1990

Began to engage with China’s independent filmmakers

 

Awards

2015

“China’s Most Charming People List” award for Charm in Action 2014

 

presented by Southern People’s Weekly and Wuliangye Corporation, China

2014

“Prudential Eye Award–Lifetime Achievement Award for Asian Contemporary

 

Art”, Prudential Eye Program, Singapore

2012

“Artist of the Year” Award, Oriental Morning Post, China

2011

“National Spirit Achievers Award”, Mercedes-AMG and Life Magazine, China

 

“Man of the Year”, GQ, China

2010

“Sixth Chinese Elite Award”, Mangazine, China

2009

“Artist of the Year”, Art China, China

2008

“Top 100 Most Powerful People in Chinese Contemporary Art”, L’ Officiel Art,

 

China

2007

“New Prominent Person—Contribution to a Better Life Award”, New Weekly,

 

China

 

“Star of the Year”, Hi Art, China

 

“Chinese Art Event of the Year 2006” & “Chinese Artist of the Year 2006”,

 

Artron, China

2006

“50 Chinese Charisma Award 2006”, Southern People Weekly, China

 

“People of the Year 2005”, Chinese Contemporary Art News Magazine, China

 

 

Public Collections

2014

Museum for Modern Art, Zurich, Switzerland

2013

Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

 

Getty Center, Los Angeles, USA

 

Museum for Modern Art, Zurich, Switzerland

 

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

2012

Graz Art Museum, Graz, Austria

2011

Museum of Contemporary Art Chengdu, Chengdu, China

2008

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, USA

2007

Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

2006

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, USA

2001

Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

1999

Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

 

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia

 

Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing, China

1998

Modern Chinese Art Foundation, Ghent, Belgium

 

Dong Yu Museum, Shenyang, China

1997

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA

 

Upriver Art Museum, Chengdu, China

1995

National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

1994

Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland

1993

Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

 

Recording ‘Fullness’ in Time and Society

By Yang Zhao

 

During a discussion with Li Xianting in 2003, Liu Xiaodong put forth his impression regarding Lucian Freud:

“I realize that his psychological state is completely different than mine…He is a ‘European’, fine with not having any friends, and able to just paint one thing for his entire life. Things are different in Chinese society, where it’s like a party whenever you leave the house, and those that enter your house are considered friends. We would also become more reflective and calm as we grow older. It is a matter of cultural differences, and I would not be able to paint as Freud does.” 

These words demonstrate a typical characteristic found in Liu’s paintings: his subjects are always found in their social environment, and are by extension, ambassadors for that society. Although some people may view Liu’s and Freud’s works as similar to one another, there are vast differences between them that are obvious and un-ignorable. Freud’s portraits pull his subjects out of the society from which they’re from to showcase their independence and uniqueness. On the contrary, Liu’s subjects are always placed back into their social environments, and in some works, the shifting, indistinct social environments behind his figures are, in fact, the actual focus – the subjects are simply there to pull attention to that spot. 

Liu created his New Eighteen Disciples of Buddha series for the “Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art—18 Solo Exhibitions” organized by Cai Guo-Qiang in 2007. His subjects were military personnel from both Taiwan and Mainland China. What was so intriguing about the series of paintings was the ease with which viewers had in distinguishing Taiwanese and Chinese soldiers without explanation.

This same level of visual accuracy can also been seen in Liu’s other paintings of Taiwan, including his Betelnut Girl series, Not Far From Jiufen series, and his series of students from Tunghai University. Liu said:

 “… those Taiwan paintings, I immediately fell in love when I arrived, the kids are so pure and simple, especially in comparison with those in the Mainland. They dress very fashionable, yet are very cultured and polite. They will look you straight in the eye, and have their own happiness and their own lives. They are quite different from youths in the Mainland.”

Li Xianting, on the same subject, also reflected:

“… those Taiwan paintings show the island’s youth as how I saw them. Although there are similarities to Mainland youth, there is still a very different feeling.”

Liu Xiaodong captured the essence of the Taiwanese youth in his paintings, which the audience, including Li Xianting, is able to identify. In other words, these subjects are not cut off as solitary figures, but instead were painted to evoke a strong sense of “Taiwanese-ness” within their audience.

Social environment and situations make up the “realistic” core of Liu’s works - not some specific brush technique. Paradoxically, this realism is moving away from the social realism of the past – a movement that despite its name, relied on an artificial setting of themes. Liu’s work clearly rejects this painting model where subjects are plucked out of their natural social environments.  

Faced with this phony realism, Liu Xiaodong’s generation searched for a new language and way to describe truth and reality on canvas. Liu said, “ We no longer believe in creating an artificial world or landscape; the natural world is a wonderful thing, and I paint my surroundings in a natural manner.”

Liu’s “natural world” does not refer to a wilderness in which man has no presence, but a “reflection” of the world before him and thus a resistance against creating artificial environments. Liu’s style can be considered “natural” because it makes a point of placing the individual firmly back into the reality of daily life, as opposed to pulling him out of it. Within his or her social environment, the individual naturally exhibits a spectrum of moods and minds—from nervousness to relaxation—as a reflection of his or her relationship with society.

To avoid confusion, perhaps substituting the word “fullness” or “completeness” for “natural” would be proper here. Li Xiaodong grew up and studied to be an artist in the post-Cultural Revolution period, while Lucian Freud lived in a very different society that was highly urbanized and modern. Freud’s subjects strive to emerge from the background noise of their modern day surroundings, and, as they do so, their lonely alienation stands out in clear relief. For Freud, this is what it means to have painted a complete person. Liu’s paintings, on the other hand, want to return to a free flowing society through the artist’s subjective interference (“it’s like a party whenever you leave the house, and those that enter your house are considered friends”)—only then can the “fullness” or three dimensionality of the subject emerge.     

The success of Liu lies in his ability to demonstrate this “fullness”, or three dimensionality, with the vocabulary of contemporary Chinese art. His artistic spirit resembles that of a documentary, where the relationship between the traditional social realism movement and Liu’s work is akin to the difference between a drama and documentary. The nature of serial dramas is to ignore elements that are not directly connected with the main plot and instead focus its energies on the main conflict at hand. Although dramas extract much material from real life, the recombination of the material taken from its original context cannot be anything but a fabrication. A documentary, however, is a different game. In the search for aesthetics, a documentary chooses a person or event and carefully ties it into its original context. The focus of documentary then slowly expands from the person or event in question, leading the audience in the discovery of an unfamiliar context and background. Suddenly the background and foreground (i.e. the subject and the context) change places and slowly fuse into one another.

At first glance, the protagonist of Liu’s newest series of paintings seems to be none other than himself; someone who left his hometown for the big, wide world and is now returning to visit his old classmates. After all, these former students were chosen to be Liu’s subjects precisely because they were his old classmates. This first impression, however, gradually fades and is replaced by another element. 

This element in question is the passage of time. Although the subjects of Liu’s paintings were all originally Liu’s classmates, 30 years have now passed since they shared the same classroom. This series brings together middle-aged friends for what one could call a class reunion, and the passage of time is brought into sharp relief. On each face is etched various personal stories that, thirty years ago, no one would have expected facing. But at the same time, these stories are indefinable and ungraspable in relation to the dark and terrifying power of time; we can only hazard a guess at their existence by the congealed traces of the ravages of time left behind on each face we see.

The 30 years that Liu and his classmates have experienced were not an average period of time, but the beginning of a period of massive and rapid transformation. In his simple, yet accurate, treatment of his classmates, Liu refrains from placing them within his own subjective experience of the past, but instead locates them firmly in this breathless transformation of Chinese society. These former classmates become representatives of their social environment, and thus we are afforded an indescribable, yet clear look into modern day China.

This group of young men and women who grew up together in the village of Jincheng transforms into the different faces of Chinese society some 30 years later. As we are shown one figure after another, their images and stories become more intense, and we soon wish we could turn our eyes away. And, whether we want to entertain such thoughts or not, the entire series cannot help but remind us of the massive upheavals of the past 30 years and the devastating and destabilizing effect it had on those living at that time. It is this historical power which cannot be controlled or tamed, which far surpasses the individual and the scope of his or her life and thus, at best, can only be accepted in resignation. This is exactly what becomes the main visual focus of Liu’s paintings.

Liu Xiaodong has taken this group of former classmates and transformed them into a single metaphor. He uses them to document a ruthless era of savagery and destabilization that prefers to remain in the shadows and unexpressed. The paintings of Liu, in their documentary spirit, will also echo the movie Hometown Boy produced by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and the intertexuality of the two will constitute an ingenious relationship.

 

Author / LIU Xiaodong
  • Language
  • PriceNT$950
  • PublisherThe Eslite
  • Size25.8x25.6 cm
  • Publication Date2008/01
  • ISBN
BUY

Author / LIU Xiaodong
  • Language
  • PriceNT$250
  • PublisherThe Eslite
  • Size25x21 cm
  • Publication Date2005/05
  • ISBN

Liu Xiao Dong 2003

Author / LIU Xiaodong
  • Language
  • PriceNT$300
  • PublisherThe Eslite
  • Size20x20 cm
  • Publication Date2003/11
  • ISBN
Liu Xiao Dong 2003

Hometown Boy DVD

Author / LIU Xiaodong
  • Language
  • PriceNT$399
  • Publisher
  • Size
  • Publication Date2012/10
  • ISBN4712832846072
BUY
Hometown Boy DVD

Hometown Boy

Author / LIU Xiaodong
  • Language
  • PriceNT$2200
  • PublisherThe Eslite
  • Size72 min.
  • Publication Date2011/12
  • ISBN4719606913947
BUY
Hometown Boy

LIU Xiaodong in Indonesia (Attached DVD)

Author / LIU Xiaodong
  • Language
  • PriceNT $ 1,200
  • Publisherthe eslite corp.
  • Size26.2 (H) x 21.6 (W) cm
  • Publication Date2014/12
  • ISBN978-986-90581-4-8
BUY
LIU Xiaodong in Indonesia (Attached DVD)

LIU Xiaodong went to Indonesia in earlier 2014, and made over 20 works on paper and canvas. He attempts to capture onto canvas the past and present of Indonesian Chinese from a neutral and calm perspective.


Approximately seven or eight years ago, LIU Xiaodong visited Indonesia and attended a lavish banquet thrown by an overseas Chinese in his mansion. There LIU saw women in qipaos and high hairdos learning Michael Jackson movements from a dance instructor, while the men walked on the side with their wine. It seemed as if time solidified in the 70's. In Indonesia, overseas Chinese control the economy, but do not mesh well with the locals. "Like living on a luxurious cruise in a vast ocean, they leave home with their car, and never stroll down the highly guarded streets," LIU observed. In the 19th Century, the Dutch murdered 500,000 Chinese living in Indonesia to crush their attempt of independence. During the 1960s, the Indonesians killed close to a million Chinese, and in 1998 were the Anti-Chinese riots where many more were slaughtered. The Chinese that were killed were thrown into Red River right in the middle of Jakarta, and the water ran red. "People may not forget the past, or maybe they aren't grieved by it, but perhaps trees and plants have a memory of it all." In the end, LIU chose to paint women of high society dancing as they held their empty partners, fallen coconuts scattered on the ground like skulls, and Red River with a street lamp planted in the middle of the water. He calls the series, "Memory Trees".

In addition to paintings and drawings, the catalogue also includes documentary film LIU Xiaodong in Indonesia by Chinese director YANG Bo. In the film, the camera follows LIU like a third eye, capturing stories that took place during LIU's painting of Indonesian Chinese.

Solo Exhibitions

2016

LIU Xiaodong in South Africa”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2014

LIU Xiaodong in Indonesia”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2013

LIU Xiaodong—Hometown Boy Print Series”, ESLITE GALLERY Project One,

 

Hong Kong, China

2011

Hometown Boy: LIU Xiaodong”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2007

“LIU Xiaodong Solo Exhibition 2007”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2005

Sketches from the Battlefield: Portraits of the New 18 Disciples of Buddha”,

 

ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2003

“Liu Xiaodong: State of Survival”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

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