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The Poetry of Still Life: Liu Lihong’s “Home” and the Outline of Memory

2023 Florence Contemporary Art Exchange Exhibition | The Poetry of Still Life: Liu Lihong’s “Home” and the Outline of Memory



Liu Lihong is a practicing artist and scholar living in London. Awarded a doctorate in 2023. In 2022, co-curated her first joint exhibition "Secret Heim" in the UK. As an academic, Liu Lihong has spoken at “The Cultural Literacy Everywhere Symposium on Dwelling” hosted online by University College Dublin and at the one-day symposium “Colouring In: The Past” hosted by University of the Arts London in 2022. As an invited artist and scholar, she spoke at the 4th Barcelona Conference on Arts, Media and Culture in 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.

Liu Lihong's work spans a variety of media, including painting, sculpture and installation. Her early sculptural works explored the relationship between memory and the perception of everyday objects, particularly through the use of tangible and intangible traces. In her recent creations and research, she uses "Déjà vu" as an "emotional" artistic strategy, which is linked to the displacement of space and time related to unheimlich (that is, weird/unusual). Liu Lihong's practice and its theoretical context focus on exploring the concepts of the relationship between déjà vu and the uncanny in philosophy and psychology. In addition, she pays special attention to the experience of displacement, and explores how to continue the familiar sense of "home" in different living spaces through constant observation and research.

Liu Lihong's artwork draws inspiration and knowledge from many artists. From Giorgio Morandi's still life paintings to Do Ho Suh's translucent installations; from Rachel Whiteread's exploration of negative space to William Scott's Scott, drawing inspiration from kitchen utensils; to paintings by Jasper Johns and Michael Craig-Martin, her work showcases a diverse artistic influence.


Giorgio Morandi,静物



Do Ho Suh,Hub, 260-10 Sungbook-dong, Sungbook-ku, 韩国首尔


Liu Lihong's creative tentacles extend to the most common objects in daily life - those items that are closely related to our daily lives. Her living room, a private and familiar space, became the source of her works. Toiletries, dinner plates, clothes hangers, furniture, etc. are all outlined with a soft and subtle brushstrokes, as if the artist is gently painting deep in the soul. The "The Ghosts" series on display in this exhibition is a work inspired by her introspection and exploration of her home space in China during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Liu Lihong's artistic works subtly respond to our understanding of the concept of "home", our understanding of the incredible and mysterious. The concept of this series was further elaborated in her later series "The Darkness" and "The Emptiness" series, which depicted her discomfort in moving into a new residence through the perspective of loneliness, and what happened to her a year later. The weird moment after emptying everything. These concepts also run through her linear sculpture works - 3D paintings (linear sculptures) made by welding thin wires in space, which are combined to form her installation art project - "Phantom Project". Here, the sculpture does not appear as a fixed form, but as a trajectory left in space, and the depicted object can only be identified from a specific angle. This highlights the theme of using familiar or homely objects in life as the main objects of discussion, showing how images of familiar places of residence remain in the mind even though they have changed or even disappeared. This further depicts the remaining image of "home" in the artist's mind, showing the traces in the memory, the scene between presence and absence, and depicting the artist facing the space where he once lived becoming empty. The complex feeling between familiarity and strangeness after swinging. In the process of exploring the deep meaning between home space, objects and self, and studying the meaning of "home", we are actually looking for the familiar feeling of that so-called "feeling of home", which is a feeling that we have felt for a long time. familiar, something that was once very familiar.


Lihong Liu, The Darkness series III, 2020,50 x 35.5 cm,Pencil drawing on paper



Lihong Liu, The Emptiness series III, 2021, 18 x25 cm, Correct fluid drawing on paper



Lihong Liu, Phantom Project: My Bedroom, Flat 506, Frobisher House, Dolphin Square, London,

UK, SW1V 3LL. 2022 Size variable Wire, white spray paint



Liu Lihong's "The Ghosts" series is an artistic response to the feeling of displacement and a continuous questioning of the concept of "home". The images are presented with subtle outlines and the medium of silk, triggering new reflections on everyday objects. In this series she explores the emotional connections between everyday objects and their users. This exhibition displays two works from this series, "The Ghosts of Bottles" and "The Ghosts of Photos", which respectively use daily necessities and family photos as research objects to explore this relationship as a reference. Presented in the form of a silhouette, the simple outline information hints at the object itself and the evidence that it represents a certain period or moment in which the user was present, thereby further suggesting the absence of that time in the present.


Lihong Liu,THE GHOSTS OF TOOTHBRUSH,2020, Chinese pigment on silk 30 x 30cm




Lihong, Liu, The Ghosts of Bottles, 2020 Chinese pigment on silk 52x 32cm



In The Ghosts of Bottles, here she uses muted tones and simple lines to represent everyday objects. Objects in the painting, including bottles of hand sanitizer and other containers, were made transparent by the artist. Through this delicate depiction, the artist seems to be exploring the objects themselves and their presence in our lives.

In this painting, each object seems to have a story, and their existence transcends their functional use and is transformed into a carrier of emotion. By emphasizing the outline of objects, Liu Lihong skillfully captures the non-verbal communication between objects and users. The depictions of these daily necessities are records of fragments of the users’ lives, and also hint at the distance between memory and reality.

This series of works is Liu Lihong's unique understanding and expression of the themes of "home" and "memory". She uses a brush to delicately outline the outlines of objects, allowing viewers to feel the "soul" of the objects in a calm way and how they are closely connected with our lives. It is also a profound understanding of life and a tribute to the past.




December 11, 2023

Italy




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