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Peter Frank

Art Critic, Los Angeles

Catalogue essay for Solo Exhibit in Hong Kong, March 2000






Katherine Chang Liu paints at the edge of sight, even of consciousness, evoking a hypnogogic state in which nothing is known completely, even clearly, and yet so much is known.


Chang Liu's soft brush, fine line, muted palette, and restrained use of collage material all conspire to maintain a delicate deflection in her paintings. They yield few if any images on which we can impose our readings, and even those images that do appear as rendered, or even collaged in by the artist, defy the gaze's attempt to fix them. As opposed to many painters whose abstract compositions are festooned with isolated images, Chang Liu modifies the distinction between figure and ground, always seeking a midpoint between stark contrast and thorough engulfment. Chang Liu's "figures", whether collaged or rendered, whether representational or non-objective, are in their grounds, but not of them.


As such, Chang Liu's painting collages resist being easily read; they do not invite the glyphic or even rebic decodings that (however misleadingly) the work of other imagist abstract painters so often prompts. On occasion the numerals of a calendar page or a calligraphic gesture that suggests Latin or Chinese lettering may intimate the presence of personal notation. Elsewhere, spidery black marks dance and orbit on and just below Chang Liu's grit-velvet surfaces, also inferring a writing within the painting. But, while nudging Chang Liu's compositions past the purely gestural, such inferences stop short of the cryptic. Their worn, obscured, palimpsestic quality bears metaphoric rather than linguistic resonance:


A human mind has left its mark.


Peter Frank

Art Critic, Los Angeles, March 2000.

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