Hung Liu was born in Changchun, China in 1948. She grew up in Beijing during the time of communist force, Mao Tse-tung, the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square. After graduating from high school in 1968, she was sent to the countryside where she worked with peasants seven days a week in the rice and wheat fields, over a four-year period
During this time she photographed and drew portraits of local farmers and their families. In 1972 schools in China began to reopen and Liu entered the Revolutionary Entertainment Department of Beijing’s Teachers College to study art and education. She graduated in 1975 and began teaching art at the Jing Shan School, an elite Beijing school. She also began weekly art lessons for children on television. Her program “How to Draw and Paint,” was renowned, and lasted several years. In 1979 she was accepted to China’s two leading art schools; she chose the Central Academy of Fine Arts where she majored in mural painting.
In 1980 she applied to the visual arts graduate program at the University of California at San Diego. She was accepted in 1981. Her passport was delayed until 1984 when she departed Beijing and began her graduate studies. In 1991 she returned to China for the first time and discovered a treasure of turn of the century photos of Chinese prostitutes, which became source material for her paintings.
Hung Liu’s unusual biography infuses her work with a unique richness; her paintings are steeped in Chinese culture, contemporary and ancient. While she has a foot in both cultures—China and the United States—her art is born of a traditional Chinese art education. She fuses images from 7th Century Tang tomb mural paintings of princes and princesses with Western imagery such as St. Christopher carrying a baby across the river, surrounded by her signature circles of color, an abstract pattern which dances energetically across the surface.
Liu plumbs the depths of her life experience as well as all that interests her about history, gender, identity, Chinese politics and culture and combines this broad range with her intelligence into compositions that pose questions while offering a moment to stop and contemplate all that is bold and beautiful in her universe