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Richard Vine Visited Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum in China

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Richard Vine, former managing editor

Invited by the Liu Shiming Art Foundation, Richard Vine traveled to Beijing as the field study for his upcoming publication. Richard Vine is a New York-based art critic and former managing editor. On November 9, 2023, he visited the Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), China. His critical books include the career survey Odd Nerdrum: Paintings, Sketches, and Drawings (2001) and New China, New Art (2008), which traces the emergence of avant-garde art in post-Mao China. He has co-curated exhibitions at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2013), the National Academy of Art in New Delhi, India (2015), and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York (2016).

Left to right: Sun Wei, Richard Vine, and Liu Wei in front of Cutting Through Mountains to Bring in Water (2006)

Vine's research field encompasses the contemporary Chinese art. After visiting the exhibition "In the Heart of the Bronze: A Liu Shiming Experience" at Western University, Canada, he started this journey to China to explore Liu Shiming's art and his life experiences. Vine's upcoming publication will be a critical biography of Liu Shiming, focusing on his life experiences under different historical-political contexts of new China, positioning his artworks critically and art historically, and marking parallels between the Eastern and Western art histories.

The Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum is the most comprehensive permanent exhibition space, mainly collecting Liu Shiming's clay sculptures. The museum, renovated from the former sculpture factory of CAFA, spans two floors, offering an immersive experience for audiences to explore Liu Shiming's art from various periods.

Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum (1st floor)

The collections depict multiple layers of the local people living in the Yangtze River and Yellow River basins of Henan and Hebei provinces, including Dream to Fly (1982), Gunagling San (1986), and Ansai Waist Drummer (1989), showcasing the local lives and traditional folk cultures of China. The museum's second floor is connected by a long rotating staircase constructed with scaffoldings, while the LED installations on the roof generate an ambiance reminiscent of the sky. These elements aim to reconstruct the scenes of Chinese folk lives that Liu Shiming continuously pursued and recalled in his artworks.

Liu Wei (right) explaining the work Boatmen on the Yellow River (1990) to Richard Vine (middle)

Vine remarks, "There is a parallel between the material and the subject: the subject that comes from everyday life, and the material that comes from everyday clay." The clay is,

as he stated in the discussion, "an important entry point to understand Liu's art."

"The whole point of poetry is saying the most while using the fewest words." Vine said in

the interview, He added, "Liu Shiming did utilize the simplest material to do his art while containing the most profound feelings."

Accompanied by Liu Wei, the son of Liu Shiming, CAFA's Professor Sun Wei, and representatives from the Liu Shiming Art Foundation, Vine found more parallels between

Liu Shiming and the contemporary Western art world. From the artist's identity, the ecology, to the accessibility, he discovered themes in Liu Shiming's art and life experiences that can generate echoes among many Western audiences.

Discussion in Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum

Vine proposed further expectations for the Liu Shiming Art Foundation in the United States. The Foundation could delve deeper into the connection between Liu Shiming and contemporary art, organize more exhibitions in higher educational institutions, and host more panel discussions to stimulate a broader conversation by scholars from various academic backgrounds.

Written by Chirui Cheng

Photo credits to: Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum

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