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Liu Shiming: The Spirit of Daily Life

Updated: Apr 17

At Queen’s University, the Art & Media Lab together with the Liu Shiming Art Foundation, has opened a quiet corner called "Liu Shiming: The Spirit of Daily Life." This exhibition, launched in February, brings visitors face to face with the sculptures of Liu Shiming. His work gives a voice to those often-unseen ordinary people, much like Edward Hopper's paintings do. The sculptures, with their clear lines and simple shapes, show us the quiet strength and varied emotions of people living in new China.

This show is much more than looking at art. It is about walking with Liu on his journey, exploring his deep love for Chinese culture and his search for what’s genuine and simple. The sculptures, spanning from the 1980s to the early 2000s, serve as silent sentinels, echoing Liu’s dialogue with Daoist "Wu Wei" — an embrace of impactful simplicity and the spontaneous rhythm of the natural world. Daria Murphy, the curator, reflects on her initial encounter with Liu Shiming's collection: "Upon first encountering his artwork, I was immediately captivated by the humor and charisma that many of his pieces exude. From diminutive yet enchanting representations to more grandiose works symbolizing bravery and courage, his collection presents a diverse range of themes that encourage dialogue among visitors."

Visitors don't just look; they engage. They find themselves wrapped in a dialogue not just with Liu’s past but with the vibrant tapestry of the now and the echoes of the future. Here, art becomes an experience that encourages us to find harmony in life’s simple and complex moments. Barbara Crow, Dean of Queen’s University, comments on the partnership with the Liu Shiming Art Foundation: "The foundation's efforts to make art accessible and engage in global discussions about culture, art, and our identities align closely with Queen's University's objectives. We are excited by the opportunity to access an artist of Liu Shiming's stature, whose work contributes significantly to our understanding of Asian culture and the universal themes of humanity."

"The Spirit of Daily Life" stands as a beacon of calm in our fragmented reality, urging us to pause, to observe the mundane through Liu’s eyes, and to rediscover the serene beauty in our everyday moments. It’s a reminder that true artistry isn't about the big and the bold but in the quiet moments of connection and reflection.

Written by Chirui Cheng

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