Liu Dahong: Immortal Red
7 November 2019 - 4 January 2020
Hanart TZ Gallery

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Artist’s Reception

Thursday, 7/11/2019, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Exhibition Period

7/11/2019 to 4/1/2020

Hanart TZ Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Liu Dahong’s solo exhibition “Immortal Red”, taking place on 7 November 2019. The exhibition will run through 4 January 2020.

In spring this year, Liu Dahong completed his artist residence, “Painting in China Today: the Art of Liu Dahong”, at Jesus College in the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Living with History

The motto of Liu Dahong’s Duo Hundred Studio is taken from Chairman Mao’s famous admonition: “Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend.” The political movements that took place in the Mao era, which were the most radical form of politics of China’s past century of revolutions, have been absorbed into the methodology of Liu’s seemingly politically retrograde art studio. This year Liu Dahong is celebrating his studio’s 30th anniversary, and his celebration brings to mind the centenary of an earlier ‘cultural revolution’ that predated Mao’s by almost fifty years: the May Fourth Movement of 1919. While to all appearances the Duo Hundred Studio seems completely out of touch with today’s global world, Liu Dahong has in fact not only continuously refreshed Mao’s old slogans with contemporary critique, he has also found favour in a very fashionable pursuit, which is to ground global concerns in local historical experience, thereby giving both spatial and temporal coordinates to cultural contemporaneity.

The Century of Revolution broke the back of China’s proverbial historical continuity, and has also caused China’s current cultural anxiety. One may find consolation in the knowledge that cultural memory never truly becomes lost, even though revival depends to a great extent on serendipity and creative genius. Therefore, the challenge for cultural workers emerging in the aftermath of great upheavals is to re-constitute broken memories and a shattered cultural cosmos.  Liu Dahong brings to the situation his own wild enthusiasm and untenable ideas, by matching wordplay with historical fact, promising political incorrectness when caution should have been the way. Precisely as result of this indiscretion, Liu Dahong has maintained a channel of communication between pre-modern China and contemporary times. Through him we are now fortunate to be in the possession of a personalised mythology as well as a dramatised historical saga.

The hexagram ‘ge’ (conventionally, and erroneously, translated into English as ‘revolution’) from the Book of Change tells us that at times of ‘ge’ the great man undergoes a ‘tiger-change’ while the gentleman undergoes a ‘leopard-change’, for the purpose of establishing both an operational cosmic calendar and seasonal regularity. At the same time, the ordinary folk pursue ‘art’ in order to fulfil the need for mythology and lore. The meeting ground of these two dynamics is the common mission to repair the disrupted workings of heaven and earth, and fulfil the need to make sense of disjointed historical times by bringing them into coherent civilizational narratives.

For this exhibition, while he revisits the past century of revolutions, Liu Dahong brings back the Red Immortals to quell wayward demons and bless the troubled streets of Hong Kong.

And thus Liu Dahong offers his Prayer of Red Immortals:

The numeral 9 spells trouble for the Middle Kingdom,

Uprightness free from regret.

Red Immortals offer a spell to quell Hong Kong’s woes,

Calendars Red and White teach the complementary powers of yin and yang.

At Pedder set an altar of purgation, and pray for peaceful Hills and calm Seas.

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