Spring/Summer 2020
Hung Liu Studio Newsletter

Pandemic Edition

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W elcome to the Hung Liu Studio newsletter, Pandemic Edition. We hope you are sheltered and in place.  -  Hung Liu & Jeff Kelley

Reflections on Our Moment
Where is the way to return?


Hung Liu,  Clothesline , oil paint and ink on canvas, wood, and aluminum, with barbed wire, 
76 x 100, 2020

ach morning in the parks of Beijing older men arrive carrying songbirds in 
hooded cages,  waiting for the right moment to uncover the birds and expose 
them to the light  of a new day so they might outsing one another. One has the 
sense that in generations  past the birds would have been eagles or hawks - birds 
of prey - and the men Manchu  warriors. Today bringing songbirds to parks is a leisure pursuit, but when the cages  are uncovered the vestiges of some ancient competition are revealed. In 1958 the  Communist Party decided that there were 
too many sparrows in China, competing  with its people for grain. "Kill the 
sparrows to save your crops," Mao said. Millions of peasants and city dwellers destroyed nests, killed nestlings, and banged pots and pans  in order to frighten 
the sparrows and keep them aloft. Because sparrows can remain in continuous 
flight for only a short time before dying of exhaustion, an estimated four  million birds perished in Mao's campaign to rid the land of the counterrevolutionary 
sparrow. Most literally fell from the sky. The ecological consequences, of 
course, were disastrous: it turned out that sparrows had been the people's 
allies  all along, eating mostly insects. Mao's countermanding order to stop the 
killing  was simple: "Forget it." With the politically rehabilitated sparrows gone, 
however, insects ate the grain and famine set in.


Beautiful Barbarians (Pu Sa Man)

Li Bai

Trees shading trees, mist-smoke weaves.

Cold mountains, a belt of heartbreaking green.

Dusk enters a high tower; 

In it someone grieves. 

All alone upon the jade terrance; 

Homing birds return in haste.

Where is the way to return?

Long rest, short rest, bower after bower.

Hung Liu, Surrounded by Mountains, ink and minerals colors on rice paper on silk,  1979-80 (painted on the floor of the ancient Dunhuang Caves near the Gobi Desert in China)



from the storm


Thank You!
Hung Liu Studio