Hung Liu
Kite, 2016
Jacquard tapestry
91 x 94 inches approx.
edition of 8

Hung Liu’s 2017 tapestry edition Kite is an uplifting salute to the displaced immigrant populations of the world, as Liu’s composition marries Cubism’s legacy of revolutionary abstraction with traditional Chinese symbols of hope and possibility. Kite incorporates elements from Liu’s oil painting Kite Vendor, which showed an elderly Chinese man dressed in black, selling colorful kites in winter. Here, he has been replaced by a young girl from a Liu painting based on a historical photograph of refugees fleeing the Nanking and Shanghai area during the second world war. “This girl’s face caught my attention,” says Liu; “because of the reality of her situation, she wears a much older expression than her age might suggest.” Liu explains that although the original photograph was black and white, she wished to impart a celebratory color to the girl’s face. Likewise, she overlaid the image of a bird in flight upon the girl’s forehead, combining the two “so that her mind can fly above this messy world.” To the right of the girl’s face extends the white tail of a bird, decorated with auspicious floral designs; below her, Liu has placed a small sailing boat intended “to rescue the refugee, to show her a way out.”

-Nick Stone