Image: 哪吒 陶 [Nezha], Liu Shiming, 1980. Courtesy of the Liu Shiming Foundation.
Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University is pleased to announce a retrospective exhibition of the renowned modern Chinese sculptor Liu Shiming, whose body of work engages the past and present, the epic, the mythological, and the everyday. The exhibition, LIU SHIMING: Life Gives Beauty Form, features more than 80 sculptures made over Shiming’s 60-year career, including 27 works that are being exhibited for the first time in the United States. The exhibition also features 12 drawings that illuminate Shiming’s approach to close observational study of the human form and everyday life. The retrospective will run from July 31 through September 22, 2023, with a public reception on September 6 from 5–8 p.m.
As part of the public celebration on September 6 the Department of Art & Design is hosting a panel discussion from 5:30–7 p.m. examining Shiming’s work and legacy. Panelists include esteemed Rutgers University faculty Tamara Sears, associate professor of art history; John Yau, poet and professor of critical studies in the Department of Art & Design; and Xiaojue Wang, associate professor, Asian languages & cultures.
Liu Shiming (1926–2010) was one of China’s first modern sculptors, embracing a range of styles and approaches that expressed the dynamic traditions and philosophies of and through a changing country and world.
Shiming eventually decided to leave Beijing, where he had established his career, to move to the Henan countryside. During his time working there, he became deeply engaged with the lives of many of the rural farmers and villagers that he came to know, which inspired an appreciation for the experiences and forms of ordinary life and people that would become a central theme in his work throughout the remainder of his career.
Shiming later returned to Beijing to work at several major museums, where he created replicas of historical Chinese artworks and artifacts. During this time, Shiming developed an appreciation of classical Chinese methods of sculpture that went on to inform his practice. Shiming sought to reinvent these techniques through a uniquely modernist lens, both in subject matter and approach.
The works on view, many of which are seen here for the first time outside of China, showcase a unique vision of sculpture at once highly specific to the cultural and artistic contexts in which they were made, while still informed by the historical traditions and practices that preceded them. Both humble and majestic, Shiming’s work continues to offer resonant and expansive forms for contemplation, connection, and identification.
Marc Handelman, chair of the Department of Art & Design, says he believes that the exhibit will resonate widely.
“The power of Liu Shiming’s artistic vision is that it speaks powerfully to audiences across national, cultural, and generational lines, registering a sense of connection and celebration of the everyday, which is simultaneously infused with wonder, and diversity of human life and experience. We are thrilled to be able to present such a rich art historical and internationally significant exhibition within Rutgers and to the wider communities of New Brunswick and Middlesex County.”
Mason Gross Galleries are at 33 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The galleries’ summer hours (July 31–September 2) are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fall hours (September 5–22) are: Mondays 10:30am–5pm Tuesdays 10:30am–4pm Wednesdays 10:30am–7pm Thursdays 10am–8pm Fridays 10:30am–5pm Saturdays 10:30am–5pm
The venue is wheelchair accessible and free and open to the public. For a complete exhibition and events schedule please visit the event information page.
This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Liu Shiming Foundation and Bloomberg Connects, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a free and fully accessible digital platform for programming in the arts. Download the Bloomberg Connects app to access our online guide and detailed image descriptions for current and past exhibitions.
About Mason Gross School of the Arts
Mason Gross School of the Arts is a vibrant community of artists and scholars committed to pursuing excellence, innovation, and inclusivity. Its mission is to create socially relevant art, foster diverse programming and curricula, cultivate community partnerships, and advance the arts through teaching, creative activity, advocacy, and research that contributes to the public good. Comprising 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students across programs in music, theater, dance, filmmaking, and art & design, Mason Gross is housed within Rutgers–New Brunswick, a premier Big Ten research university that serves some 50,000 students and is the flagship campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
About The Liu Shiming Art Foundation
Established in 2021, the Liu Shiming Art Foundation is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of renowned Chinese artist Liu Shiming while promoting global dialogue on arts, history, and culture. Striving to empower art students and up-and-coming artists, the Foundation encourages exploration of diverse art forms and comprehensive study of multicultural art history, with a particular focus on fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for Asian art within a worldwide context. Embracing the blending of Eastern and Western perspectives that was integral to Liu Shiming’s artistic identity, the Foundation fosters an inclusive environment, reminding artists of their potential to create timeless and transcendent works of art that surpass geographic or cultural boundaries.
About Liu Shiming
Liu Shiming (1926–2010) was a celebrated Chinese sculptor whose influential works left an indelible mark on the evolution of modern Chinese sculpture. Shiming studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and gained international acclaim for his work “Measuring Land” as early as 1950. He continued to create large-scale, publicly displayed sculptures throughout his career. During the 1960s, Shiming lived in the rural areas of Henan and Hebei provinces, where he developed a profound appreciation for the working class and rural life. This experience, along with exposure to folk art in local museums, inspired him to depict everyday scenes in his sculptures. Today, Shiming is renowned for his ability to gracefully capture ordinary moments and skillfully blend folk traditions with modern sensibilities.