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Historic Imagery

Take a look at Hung Liu's work at the Oakland Museum.


September 2001, collection of Driek and Michael Zirinsky

Oakland artist Hung Liu grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution and began her career painting murals. After immigrating to the United States, she turned her brush toward interpreting China’s history, using found photographs as inspiration. An exhibit of her powerful work opens this month at Oakland Museum. We caught up with Liu to learn about her creative process.

»Finding inspiration: “You see images that inspire you and make you think. You find that moment your breath is taken away.”

»Approaching the canvas: “Sometimes, you get a canvas and think, ‘Will it be big enough?’ Even though I have imagined it in my mind, I look at the real canvas and think, ‘No, this is not big enough.’ I love a blank canvas. It’s so beautiful, just ready for you to do anything.”

»Setting the mood: “Some days, like a dark rainy day, I have music playing. I have a collection of Chinese and Russian folk music. Most days, I’d rather just have everything in silence.”

»Putting down the brush: “I don’t think there is a formula or way to know when a painting is finished. It’s by experience, a rational way of thinking, but also by feeling or intuition.”

Liu’s exhibit runs March 16–June 30, museumca.org.

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