Dr. Wilda Reviews art exhibit: ‘Hometown Boy: Liu Xiaodong’ at Seattle Art Museum

12 Sep

“You can’t go home again”

Thomas Wolfe

Moi was invited to a press briefing to preview the exhibit “Hometown Boy” at Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Here are the details:

Hometown Boy

Liu Xiaodong

Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park

August 31, 2013–June 29, 2014

SAAM Foster Galleries

Mr. Xiadong was present to answer questions with  translation provided by the curator, Josh Yiu. If moi had to characterize the exhibit, aside from intense paintings done in a commanding style with sure brush strokes and a piercing eye, she would say that Mr. Xiadong’s work presents two questions. The first, is can one really go home again? The second question which is probably more relevant in the current political and social climate, can an accomplished artist walk that tightrope between artistic expression and political acceptance?

Here is a bit about Mr. Xiaodong from Financial Times columnist Barnaby Martin in the article, Liu Xiaodong: life as he knows it:

When anyone mentions Chinese contemporary art, we have come to expect the wilder shores of conceptualism, performance or installation. But there is also another rich vein alive in Chinese art today: realism. Liu Xiaodong is a figurative Chinese artist based in Beijing, where he is also a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and for the next four weeks he will be working at a series of locations in and around the unglamorous setting of London’s Edgware Road. Last week he was in The Perseverance, a pub in Marylebone, where in the midst of the comings and goings of customers he painted the landlord and landlady and the chef. It had taken him two weeks to choose the location before he found what he was looking for: an emotional connection with the staff….

For more than three decades, Liu has been painting people. His canvases are large, often upwards of two metres square, and more often than not he paints people he knows in their homes or their place of work, or standing around in their neighbourhood. Sometimes he paints people he doesn’t know – as he is doing in London – but he first spends time getting to know them. He has been invited into the homes of the staff at the The Perseverance, has had dinner with them, smoked with them and walked their dogs.

This strong documentary urge reflects his interest in documentary cinema. Liu’s involvement in film extends to several credits as producer, a starring role in the 1993 Chinese indie hit The Days and the job of artistic director on Beijing Bastards the same year. Liu does not paint from his imagination, or from photographs, preferring to carve out “a set” from the corner of a pub, or a busy restaurant, or a side street in his hometown, and then direct his subjects….

Critics have compared his work to Lucian Freud’s, although Liu’s brushwork is, if anything, broader and more apparently casual than the late British master’s. Liu himself is quick to cite Cézanne as a major western influence. But his work, which is so often about his old friends, many of whom have been left behind by the post-Mao boom, overflows with poignancy in a way that is reminiscent of Arshile Gorky’s “The Artist and his Mother”. When I mention Gorky’s painting, Liu is voluble in his admiration for Gorky’s work….http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2f27e5bc-facd-11e2-87b9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2eiGj2eH5

See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Xiaodong

Although, Mr. Xiaodong went back to the town of his birth, he really did not go home again. He remained an observer, looking from a distance at the scenes that he might have one time been a participant long ago. This is a review written on the emotional level because the paintings provoke one emotionally as well as intellectually. There are layers of meaning.

So, far Mr. Xiaodong seems to be walking the tightrope between art and expression in a way that artists like Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich had difficulty navigating. During the press briefing Mr. Xiaodong was careful to emphasis that he was an observer and chronicler of events rather than a commentator. The work is intriguing and well done as far as artistic craftsmanship is concerned. The real story is perhaps the meaning the artist has inserted in subtle ways and the nuance that he hints at about how he feels about the world he survives in.

This is a strong recommend from Dr. Wilda Reviews.




Artists at the MFA: Liu Xiaodong


Here is the press release:

 CONTACT: Wendy Malloy, Seattle Art Museum P.R., 206-654-3158/ wendym@seattlearmuseum.org

Cara Egan, Seattle Art Museum P.R., 206-748-9285 / carae@seattleartmuseum.org


A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea

August 10, 2013-April 13, 2014, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park

SEATTLE – August, 2013 –In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) founding by Dr. Richard Fuller (1897-1976), the museum has organized an exhibition of 150 Chinese, Japanese and Korean masterpieces from the museum’s renowned Asian art collection. The exhibition, A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea, opens August 10 and will run until April 13, 2014 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Dr. Fuller acquired important works of Asian art during his 40 years as SAM’s founder and director, many of which will be on display for the first time in decades.

In this special exhibition, visitors will discover the stories behind Dr. Fuller’s Asian collection and learn how he inherited his keen eye for acquiring rare Asian art from his mother, Margaret MacTavish Fuller, and his means to buy art from his father Eugene Fuller, a surgeon and investor. As a young woman, Mrs. Fuller accompanied her own father on a trip around the world, an experience which instilled in her a lifelong passion for travelling and for Asian art in particular.

Dr. Fuller’s mother began collecting jades, snuff bottles, and ceramics through dealers in New York, where the family lived, and Europe. When Dr. Fuller was 22, the entire family traveled in Asia; his father paid for the trip and supplied each family member with a line of credit so that they could buy art. Like his mother, Dr. Fuller was particularly drawn to small collectibles; however, when he and his mother founded the Seattle Art Museum in 1933, he sought out monumental Chinese tomb sculpture to provide a grand entrance to the new museum building in Volunteer Park. At that time they donated works from their private collections to the new museum, and despite his avowal that the new institution should house a general collection, Dr. Fuller continued to collect more avidly in Chinese art than in any other area. The exhibition will also feature a Who Collected What and When section, highlighting the avid collectors and art patrons who have been key to the growth of the Seattle Art Museum from its beginning to today.

The Chinese gallery includes selections from the museum’s extensive collection. A geologist by training, Dr. Fuller had exceptional taste in Chinese jade and ceramics. The Fuller era also saw the formation of a small but choice collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy, in particular, the Buffalo and Herder Boy donated by Mrs. Thomas Stimson and the Hawk Pursuing a Pheasant donated by Mrs. Donald E. Frederick.

The Japanese section showcases many of Dr. Fuller’s major acquisitions of Japanese art. Notably, the rare fourth-century wheel-shaped jasper purchased in 1956 and donated by Dr. Fuller’s sister, Mrs. John Atwood. The Haniwa warrior sculpture—which Dr. Fuller called “the brother” of the one designated as a National Treasure in Japan—was acquired on his 1960 trip. Many of SAM’s exquisite Japanese works, such as the Poem Scroll with Deer, are also included in this section.

From the inception of the museum’s history, Dr. Fuller collected Korean art. Featured in this gallery is the magnificent 17th-century Buddhist painting, Preaching Buddha, flanked by two folding screens of the literati painting tradition: Plum Blossoms and Grapevines and Chipmunks. The cluster of metalware and ceramics—from bronze vases, to jade-like celadon ware, to striking Buncheong ware with iron-painted decoration—exemplify the fine craftsmanship and unique aesthetics of Korean art.

A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea is curated by Josh Yiu, former Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art at the Seattle Art Museum and Xiaojin Wu, Associate Curator for Japanese and Korean Art at the Seattle Art Museum.

This exhibition is organized by the Seattle Art Museum. The Presenting Sponsor is The Boeing Company. Patron Support provided by iCulture and the Katherine Agen Baillargeon Endowment. Additional Support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Mary Ann and Henry James Asian Art Endowment, the Pendleton & Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation and contributors to SAM’s Annual Fund. Official Airline Sponsor is Delta Air Lines.


Seattle Art Museum (SAM) provides a welcoming place for people to connect with art and to consider its relationship to their lives. SAM is one museum in three locations: SAM Downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. SAM collects, preserves and exhibits objects from across time and across cultures, exploring the dynamic connections between past and present.


Dr. Richard Fuller and his mother, Margaret Fuller, at the Museum entrance, 1933, Leonid Fink

Buffalo and Herder Boy, late 12th century, Chinese, artist unknown, album leaf, ink and color on silk, 9 7/8 x 11 1/8 in.. Thomas D. Stimson Memorial Collection, 48.208.

Poem Scroll with Deer,1610s, painting by Tawaraya Sotatsu, Japanese, 1576–1643, calligraphy by Hon’ami Koetsu, Japanese, 1558–1637, handscroll, ink, gold and silver on paper, 13 7/16 x 366 3/16 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Donald E. Frederick, 51.127. Photo: Seiji Shirono, National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.

Preaching Buddha, 17th century, Korean. hanging scroll, ink, color on hemp, 136 x 117 1/2 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 45.45.

Plum Blossoms in Moonlight, 19th century, Yi Gong U, Korean, eight-panel screen, ink and color on paper,43 x 10 15/16 in., Asian Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, 90.1.

Here is an image of Mr. Xiaodong’s work:


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3 Responses to “Dr. Wilda Reviews art exhibit: ‘Hometown Boy: Liu Xiaodong’ at Seattle Art Museum”

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  1. Dr. Wilda Reviews Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop at Seattle Art Museum | drwildareviews - November 23, 2014

    […] Dr. Wilda Reviews art exhibit: ‘Hometown Boy: Liu Xiaodong’ at Seattle Art Museum           https://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/dr-wilda-reviews-art-exhibit-hometown-boy-liu-xiaodon… […]

  2. Dr. Wilda Reviews Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop at Seattle Art Museum | drwilda - November 23, 2014

    […] Dr. Wilda Reviews art exhibit: ‘Hometown Boy: Liu Xiaodong’ at Seattle Art Museum           https://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/dr-wilda-reviews-art-exhibit-hometown-boy-liu-xiaodon… […]

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