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Summoning Ghosts

Hung Liu

I planned to go to the beach today. Its so warm, my painting class is over, and i felt adventurous. I was going to sip on lemon drops and draw next to the ocean. Then, remembering the windy roads to Stinson Beach, i downgraded the adventure to diet coke. Then i went to my studio to get things to bring and suddenly wanted to go to the Oakland Museum. I think it was my friend Joanne, on Facebook mentioning the exhibit yesterday. Or maybe its the still low level sick/exhausted feeling in my body from weeks of all around too much of everything there is, leaving me completely spent and in bed by the end of this last week. Regardless, there i was, 12$ later in a room watching a film of Hung Liu painting. I was mesmerized. She paints with both grace and clarity, making decisions as she goes. Her brush strokes are sure and thick. Then she gets watery and lets paint drizzle over the whole painting like icing. I think its hard to manage transparency and opaquity both at once, but her drips and washes lighten what is heavy and visceral beneath. She says she is both "careful" and "careless." I see that so clearly when standing before her enormous paintings. She focuses most on her history, that of being a young girl during the Cultural Revolution in China. This was a time of great passion and promise of a communist utopia which never really became realized. Instead it became a time of great disappointment and pain for most of it's citizens. She has also painted about many other historical events here in the United States where she settled long ago in Oakland. Yep, she is local.  It really is an amazing exhibit that i encourage every artist to see. Summoning Ghosts, The Art of Hung Liu.

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