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Drawing: A Continuing Motion

Author: Bao Dong Translator: Crosby Jeffrey Daniel 2008

The fulcrum of Hu Liu’s work is a focus on the marks left by paint. In her 2004 Cold Window, she used a candle to “trace” the scene outside a window onto the glass itself, turning the likeness of objects into scribbles of the objects. Later the pleasure of scribbling togetehr with her obsession for pencils creates the seemingly feverish marks of her drawings.

But Hu Liu does not just scribble wildly. She follows the strucrure of the objects, or their growth to the extent that the pencil seems to be part of the object or an extension of it. In other words, Hu Liu’s drawing process is one of touching the object. For this reason, her drawings have a pure tactile quality.

“Linear style is the style of distinctiveness plastically felt. The evenly firm and clear boundaries of solid objects give the spectator a feeling of security, as if he could move along them with his fingers... Representation and thing are, so to speak, identical.” That is how Heinrich Wofflin describes the linear style of painting, and though he used the words “linear” and “touch” to describe ranaissance painting, the relationship betwwen lines and touch has not changed over time, and they still coexist on Hu Liu’s drawings.

Of course, in Hu Liu’s drawings, lines have already escaped their pure shape forming goal. The lines are touching the object on the other hand, and presenting themselves on the other. So the choice of pencil stems from the fact that pencils can record every trace to the greatest extent, and can endlessly reproduce them. In this endlessly repeating act, the goal of forming shape is reduced to almost nothing, only leaving behind a shadow of the original shape - this reduces the object to a mere apparition, existing only as a guide to or result of the scribbling.

This has also determined Hu Liu’s choice of objects. Those objects with constantly changing surfaces become the matrix for her scribbles, such as plants growing leaves and flowers. But her rich spatial aspect has been translated, better yet, the visual space has been transformed into a tactile temporal sense; the dense front-to-back relationship between the leaves and flower petals has been turned into a repetitive sequential relationship between traces. The traces are stacked and interwined to form a temporal fabric.

This temporality is sometimes intentionally emphasized. In her group of small-sized drawings, she always writes the date, giving these drawings the qualities of a journal, with a sense of individualized recording of time.

With Hu Liu, there is no apparent evidence of a discussion of the issues of drawing and painting. She has summed up drawing as a motion (scribbling or touching), and endlessly continued that motion - this includes a self-defined desire or need to draw.

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