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Liu Xiuming’s paintings are mostly blue and pink - “the resolving effect of the white light after hitting the Alps,” explains Jerry Zeniuk, a renowned master painter from the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. For Liu Xiuming, her fondness of blue and purple is inspired by memories of coastal Beidaihe in Hebei Province, her northern China hometown. “They embody the serenity, tranquility, and limpidity of the earth and sky,” remarks Liu. Such a palate injects subtle sadness into the splendor of her work, which hearkens back to the good old days, as brilliant yet short as the sunset.
Since the Tang and Song Dynasties (618-1279), some traditional Chinese paintings have depicted flowers of all four seasons in the same picture - usually interpreted as a dream transcending time and space. Other paintings feature both monumental mountains and flat rivers, juxtaposing ideas about space. As far as I can see, her work embodies introspection and traverses time and space from a traditional Chinese cultural point of view, emulating a style that has been described as “poems” and “thoughts” by Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher. “Your sail, a single shadow, becomes one with the blue sky / Till now I only see the river, on its way to heaven.” As expressive as the poem by Li Bai, an eminent poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), her paintings embody her inspiration from life, which is fully explained through colors and lines. Her aim is to prove the role of time in the human experience. Paintings should inspire the audience’s subconscious, helping them feel this moment of his existence, recall good memories, and dream, culturally, about the future.
As American art historian Rosalind Krauss believes, the history of art resembles separate houses connected to each other. And in every house, an individual artist explores his own independent reality created by his own experience and wisdom. This painting behavior opens the door to the next space and closes the door behind.
Liu Xiuming’s figure paintings showcase her unique form of wisdom and display her understanding of modern life and the spatial environment, leading her audience through an exciting world of images along the timeline of artistic history. Take Karl for example: In this portrait, she puts a friend in a space of abstract color, making the relationship between tone and shading vague, with quick and gentle technique to meld the figure into the air, achieving visual stimulation. Similar to British painter Sir Francis Bacon, Liu Xiuming emphasizes images of individual imagination. She also stresses expression with free yet organic usage of painting materials. In terms of the outline of the portrait, Liu uses traditional Chinese ink and wash for reference, blurring the edge lines to represent the speed of movement and dimness of moonlight. This style of painting has changed Western portrait traditions of separating the image and background, creating a universality of space, which is more common in landscapes.
The colors of her paintings are crystal and transparent, another characteristic of landscapes, to best depict the limpidity of air and diaphaneity of space. The free usage of crystal colors complements techniques of traditional Chinese realism using multi-layered coloring, with a touch of hyper-realistic dreams after overlapping and assembling natural objects. This technique has offered Liu space to freely construct her figures across varying scenery through dislocation, deconstruction, and reorganization in multiple spaces.