Friday, April 18, 2014

"Winter Blossom" by Hung Liu

This is a woodcut of sorts. The artist Hung Liu doesn't make woodcuts in any traditional way. Her process used for this image is described on Magnolia Editions Blog:

"Winter Blossom is a hybrid of two processes, incorporating both traditional and unorthodox printmaking techniques. The image was first cut into a block of wood using a laser, after which further edits were hand-carved by Hung Liu. The woodcut was printed on a Takach etching press using traditional black relief ink; all of the colors in each print (digitally manipulated by the artist) were then registered and printed using a UV-cured acrylic inkjet printer."

This combination of ancient craft and modern, digital technology comes through in the final image. The vertical, green lines behind the portrait remind me of both wood grain and lines of code from The Matrix. The pink flowers that bloom from a gnarly tree branch refer to beauty in nature, and yet they scream urban graffiti through the skilled-yet-hasty way they are rendered.

Photograph of Zhen Fei
The branch and blossoms slither and drip ominously around portrait of Zhen Fei. We see only the face of the legendary concubine, reproduced from a century-old photograph. The garish colors and hidden costume transform her from a mere historical figure to a modern and confrontational presence. She looks directly at us, and yet her face seems impersonal, like a mask. Her silent, doll eyes taunt, reminding us of everything we don't know and will never find out.

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