Los Angeles Critic and Gallery Director
Paintbrush Integrity - The Recent Art of Katherine Chang Liu
What we notice first in all of this newer work is the layering. We live in an era of layered meaning, of lies, masquerading as newsworthy truth. Everyone knows it and yet lives their version of the lie. Katherine Chang Liu's recent paintings have layers that cover up what might need to be seen. As well-composed as they are, the urge to peel back what is before us is only stopped by the fear of a truth opposite from what we are living.
For an abstract painter such as Liu to prominently include text as she does in some of these newer pictures is an acknowledgment that literalness has invaded all of our worlds. Art is no longer a safe space from the analytical sentiments poisoning our search for a pure mind. So many artists paint to find that sort of safe space, and Liu historically has been among them. But when great art reflects turbulent days, the notation of literalness - of being imprisoned by the headlines - becomes a mandatory challenge, especially for painters whose work might otherwise be seen as being in denial of the era in which the artist lived. Liu is not in denial, she is in brave confrontation with our agitated times. As much as we as a populace are in shock and disarray over current events, Liu’s commitment to calmly record this tension without relying on illustration reflects her connection to a greater long-term vision.
In a century or two, the cultural tropes that most painters use will be untranslatable. Meanwhile, Liu’s disciplined simplicity will speak broadly. No art audience needs to be trained and in fact, most are resistant to learning before looking. Liu’s art comprehends human nature in wanting art to be a flowing conversation instead of a rigid lesson. Audiences well into the next millennium could easily see the progression of the artist’s work from times of wonder, hope, curiosity, and expansion to the times of upheaval in which we live now simply by noting the feel of obfuscated literalism creating compositional tension throughout the artworks. Some artists are antennas clued into where the whole species is headed. Liu is one of them; she communicates our present for the future in elegant pictures that need no back story or justifications to establish their timeless importance. The art audience will need to pay greater attention to what is coming out of this artist’s studio in the near future, if only to prepare to understand the days and years ahead.