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Liu Shiming Art Gallery Talks with Richard Vine - “Sculpture as Truth”

Updated: May 28

Liu Shiming Art Gallery is pleased to present “Liu Shiming: Sculpture as Truth”

– A Gallery Talk by Richard Vine on May 15, 2024

Trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Liu Shiming initially crafted Socialist Realist statuary for Mao’s China before embarking on a radical journey to connect with the everyday lives of people in the provinces. This talk will follow his return to Beijing, his years of restoration work at the National Museum, and his final phase at CAFA, where he created his admired folk-inflected sculptures.

May 15, 2024, Liu Shiming Art Gallery, New York


Session One

6:00pm – 6:15pm


Introduction – Fran Kaufman

Curatorial Director Fran Kaufman provides a short introduction of Liu Shiming Art Foundation and Liu Shiming Art Gallery to the evening’s proceedings.


Session Two

6:15pm – 8:00pm


Richard Vine: Liu Shiming’s Art and Cultural Revival

Renowned art critic and historian Richard Vine offers an in-depth look into Liu Shiming’s remarkable career, tracing his journey from early socialist realist projects to his unique observational style developed in the provinces. Vine discusses Liu’s themes of motherhood, childhood, and human-animal connections, as well as his influence on contemporary Chinese art.


Liu Shiming: Sculpture as Truth


Liu Shiming’s work reflects his deep connection to Chinese culture and his experiences throughout 20th-century China’s tumultuous political landscape. His early contributions to socialist realist projects, such as the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square, laid the foundation for his techniques. However, it was his move to Henan and Hubei provinces that marked a significant transformation in his work. There, he became deeply immersed in the daily lives of common people. This immersion allowed Liu to develop a deeply empathetic style, one that focuses on themes resonating with universal human experiences. The shift was profound, as his art began to reflect not just the physical forms of his subjects but also their emotional and social realities.


Central themes in Liu Shiming’s work include motherhood, childhood, and human-animal connections. His sculptures, known for their dynamic forms and expressive movement, capture the essence of his subjects with rare “sculptural intelligence.” Works like “Mother Returns” (1993) and “Looking at Each Other Through the Cage” (1990), depicting a caged bird confronting its free counterpart, reflect both his personal experiences and a broader cultural reflection. These pieces are a testament to Liu's ability to blend personal narratives with collective memory, creating artworks that speak to both individual and shared histories.


Liu Shiming’s artistic evolution was profoundly shaped by the socio-political contexts of his time, including the Cultural Revolution and subsequent reform periods. His initial involvement in socialist realism gradually gave way to a more introspective style as he distanced himself from Beijing's political center. During his later years in the capital, Liu refined his craft, merging traditional Chinese elements with contemporary insights, thus creating a unique artistic language that resonates with both past and present.


Language and cultural heritage play a significant role in Liu’s practice. His sculptures often incorporate traditional Chinese motifs, reflecting deep historical and cultural narratives. Vine highlighted how Liu’s work aligns with global cultural revival movements, preserving and celebrating Chinese identity through art. Specifically, Vine pointed out that Liu’s works are not mere reproductions of Chinese traditions but demonstrate a profound understanding and innovative application of these traditions. He cited Liu’s meticulous attention to detail and his commitment to portraying the nuances of Chinese life and history as evidence of Liu’s significant role in cultural heritage preservation. Through his works, Liu expresses his deep appreciation for Chinese culture and showcases his respect and innovation in artistic creation within traditional cultural contexts.


“The essence of Liu Shiming’s work lies in its ability to connect deeply with both personal and universal themes,” said Richard Vine. “His sculptures are vessels of cultural memory and identity, bridging the past and the present.” This connection between personal experience and universal significance is what makes Liu’s work so compelling and timeless.

The Liu Shiming Art Gallery remains dedicated to celebrating Liu Shiming’s legacy, offering a space for reflection and appreciation of his extensive body of work. The gallery invites art enthusiasts and the public to explore Liu Shiming’s sculptures and gain a deeper understanding of his contributions to the art world.



For more information about upcoming events and exhibitions, visit

Written by Chirui Cheng

Photo credits to: Liu Shiming Art Foundation

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