Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Receives Gift from Artist Hung Liu and Master Printer David Salgado
The University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Receives a Transformative Gift of Contemporary Art from Artist Hung Liu and Master Printer David Salgado
The fifty-five works exemplify the innovative mixed-media techniques developed by the duo.
EUGENE, Ore. – 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.
“I am gratified to donate so many of my za zhong works to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. I love the museum, because it is such a unique institution with women at the helm. Its first director, Gertrude Bass Warner (1863-1951), was a museum specialist and a collector of Asian art. The current director, Jill Hartz, and the Chief Curator of Collections & Asian Art, Anne Rose Kitagawa, are helping take the museum into the 21st century," says Liu. "I also respect the fact that the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is connected to the University of Oregon. My hope is that my gifted works will contribute to further art education, advanced scholarship, and support of students interested in exploring the creative process by making art."
In 2018, Liu was the focus of a one-woman exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., titled “Hung Liu in Print.” As described by the NMWA: “To make her prints, [Liu] uses an array of printing and collage techniques, developing highly textured surfaces, veils of color, and screens of drip marks that transform the figures in each composition. Describing printmaking as ‘poetry,’ she emphasizes the spontaneity of the layering process, which allows each image to build organically with each successive layer.”
“Before this donation, the JSMA had no works by Hung Liu,” says Kitagawa, “Given our museum’s historic Chinese legacy collection and humanitarian mission, both inspired by founder Gertrude Bass Warner, we are honored to have been chosen as the major repository of Liu’s printed art.”
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.
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.”
In 1981, Liu was accepted into the graduate program in visual arts at the University of California, San Diego, but was forced to wait for years before the Chinese government issued her passport; she received her MFA in 1986. In 1991, she returned to China and discovered a treasure-trove of turn-of-the-century photos of Chinese prostitutes, which became primary source material for a series of paintings. Today, she continues to combine influences from ancient, modern, and contemporary Chinese culture, blending imagery from Tang-dynasty (618-906) tomb murals with tropes drawn from Western art, such as Saint Christopher carrying Christ across a river. She renders her hybrid compositions using the flawless social realist techniques honed during her youth in China, but softens them with abstract patterns such as her signature color circles derived from Zen ensô paintings. Instead of perpetuating a political agenda, she turns an empathetic eye toward the struggles of common people, fusing them with her own life experience.
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.
About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest museum for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public. The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, Europe, and the Americas as well as changing special exhibition galleries. The JSMA is one of seven museums—and the only academic art museum--in Oregon accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.
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