Liu Xiaodong

Liu Xiaodong’s large-scale paintings capture contemporary life in China. His work was at the forefront of the Chinese Neo-Realist movement that took hold in the 1990s, and his artistic practice gained crucial momentum when, as a student, Liu experienced firsthand the aftermath of the protests at Tiananmen Square. Using a loose, painterly style, Liu depicts scenes of a contemporary China in the midst of massive migration, landscape-altering construction, and gross redefining of traditions.

Liu alternately works from life and from posed subjects, detailing his practice with diaries and films that provide a narrative component to his largely documentary work. His images of displaced populations often blend landscapes of both the industrial and natural world with the human struggles of the people living within them. His Three Gorges Project series consists of huge paintings and is one such example: in this work, Liu chronicles not only the construction of the highly controversial dam along the Yangtze River but also the trying human cost of the project.

Liu’s work has appeared in shows at SFMoMA, the Hayward Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, and in galleries throughout Europe, the U.S., and China.