Hung Liu, a contemporary Chinese American artist, passed away three weeks ahead of her work debuting in the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands is the first time her art will be presented on a large scale on the East Coast.
The exhibition, which opens August 27, features multilayered paintings and a glimpse into her life as an Asian Pacific American who experienced war, exile, and displacement. Liu often found her subjects in historic Chinese photographs and told the stories of people who were typically overlooked and not given a voice: prostitutes, refugees, street performers, prisoners. In more recent years, Liu shifted to focus on American subjects.
“The National Portrait Gallery mourns the death of Hung Liu, whose extraordinary artistic vision reminds us that even in the midst of despair, there is hope, and when people help each other, there is joy,” Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet said in a statement. “She believed in the power of art—and portraiture—to change the world.
Sajet’s statement said that the curator of the exhibition recently visit Liu in Oakland and got her approval on the show’s final layout. “She communicated her belief in the exhibition’s potential to convey her hopes for the future—a future based on a foundation of empathy for others,” Sajet said.
Hung Liu: Portraits of a Promised Land will be on display through May 2022.