Hung Liu: Dance

Hung Liu

Born in Changchun, China, in 1948 and lives in Oakland, United States as of 2020

Dance created in 1994

73 inches by 96 inches, oil on canvas

Purchased from Steinbaum Krauss Gallery

Dance which is part of a series of paintings named “Modern Chinese Women”, depicts a group of people dancing in a tight circle. You can only imagine that the music is loud and the event is joyous, but on the other hand the dark background hints at something maybe slightly more ominous or ritualized.

Dark subject matter wouldn’t be out of ordinary for Liu. She typically paints scenes from historical photographs that depict refugees, prisoners, soldiers and revolts during the time that Mao ruled, which established just a year after Liu’s birth. She also looks at equality for women by bringing injustices like foot binding to the canvas and painting prostitutes in a respectful way, in the style of portraits of rich families and royalty.

Her talent has not gone unnoticed in the United States, with her paintings hanging at the MET, Whitney, and the National Art Gallery, just to name a few.

-Josey Bartlett

Hung Liu (1948)



73” x 96”

Oil on Canvas

Purchased from Steinbaum Krauss Gallery

This painting depicts a group of Chinese women in uniformed white dresses with white stockings and black shoes.  They gather in a group, dancing a unified dance, one they all seem to know the steps to.  There is an ease and sense of community in watching these young women join together in a shared language of movement.  The darkly lit room and faint ghost light linger over them, it feels as if we are peeking through a window and getting a rare glimpse into a private moment, a moment shared amongst these women, something that is only meant for them. 

Hung Liu, a Chinese artist, is known for her work of painting historical Chinese photographs. Her work focuses mostly on children, women, refugees, and laborers.  Her work is unique, not just for the subject chosen, but how Liu chooses to depict it, through dripping layers of paint which help to add a dimension of reality to the painting.  In Dance it feels as if you are in the room with the women, dancing, sweating, engaging in a unified movement that only the people in the room are privy to.

-Amanda McDowall