On July 31st, the "Liu Shiming: Life Gives Beauty Form" exhibition opened at Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University. This landmark exhibition celebrates the art of Liu Shiming (1926-2010) and features over 80 sculptures created over Shiming's illustrious 60-year career, including 27 pieces being exhibited for the first time in the United States. Audiences will have the rare opportunity to experience the profound depths of one of China's highly esteemed modern sculptors through this exhibition, which showcases a truly diverse collection of works that chronicle the profound evolution of this master craftsman.
Liu Shiming's journey began at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he honed his skills in the techniques of classical Western sculpture. Rising rapidly to prominence, he soon became a significant figure in the creation of esteemed public monuments for China. Yet, in the prime of his accomplishments, Shiming left Beijing's bustling artistic scene to immerse himself in the simplicity of the Henan countryside. It was there that Shiming's artistry truly found its soul. The nuances of ordinary life, the faces of common folk, became a transformative muse that resonated throughout his career.
After returning to Beijing, Shiming worked at the National Museum of Chinese History (currently named the National Museum of China), creating replicas of historical Chinese artworks and artifacts. This phase further refined his artistic identity, establishing a bond with classical Chinese sculpting techniques that became a hallmark of his creations.
His subsequent return to the Central Academy of Fine Arts wasn't just a homecoming but a coronation, as he assumed the revered role of a faculty member. As an educator, he shaped young minds while continuing to explore and express his distinctive style.
What truly sets Shiming apart is his unfailing dedication to defining a modern Chinese aesthetic deeply rooted in local traditions and Chinese sculpture's vast history. Yet, he was never confined by them, daring to diverge and differentiate from both his contemporaries in China and those on the global stage.
This exhibition promises a deeply immersive journey into Shiming's world. A world where sculptures reflect both the echoes of ancient traditions and the whispers of modern interpretations. The showcased pieces, both majestic and humble, invite viewers to delve into contemplation, find connections, and perhaps see reflections of their own stories.
Mason Gross Galleries are at 33 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The exhibition will remain on view till September 22, 2023, and is open from Monday to Saturday.
Richard Siggillino, Exhibition “Liu Shiming: Life Gives Beauty Form” curatorial statement.