Liu Huiting’s Images of Recollection and Remembrance
Liu Huiting‘s artistic practice investigates the relationship between site and memory, pushing their boundaries to create allegoric paintings that address topics such as space, time, identity and past life. The China-born Huiting (b.1986) studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and very recently completed her masters on Fine Arts at the Chelsea College of Arts in London. Motivated by the need to maintain personal and cultural ties, the artist relies on her own memories, as well as her stories from the new country she now lives. In this respect, she manages to successfully embody these cultural references in her paintings.
Huiting’s recent body of work, entitled the Green series, consists of distinctive paintings that symbolically or pragmatically memorialize the imagery of water and wall, underlying their philosophical aspect as “carriers of memory”. On one hand, the walls express the thickset representation of memory that barely fades away or is solidly built in mind, which is further emphasized by the repetitive process of repainting to achieve the thickening of the walls on the canvas. On the other hand, the water’s significance concentrates on its flow that effortlessly takes away either pleasant or unpleasant instances. According to Huiting, “the river of memory is dyed green by time, which is the colour that time leaves, representing the continuation of life”.
What captured my attention at the 2016 masters graduation show at Chelsea College of Arts was her paintings’ perspective; it seems an evident attempt of creating an illusion of depth. A less realistic modelling of her images in combination with a geometric technique that depicts the three-dimensional figures on canvas renders an alternative experience of space reminiscent of a slight analytic form of Cubism. Her paintings offer a playful way of looking at them from higher or lower angles, placing more emphasis on having a less boring two-dimensional painting result. In addition, Huiting concentrates on a broad array of the green colour hues that either help to flatten the space or to provide an extensive view of landscape.
In her show, there were also beautiful ceramic Cactuses as part of the whole installation. This ceramic series Fear, Loneliness, Pain, is composed by separated pieces and the inspiration for this approach “come from the kind of plastic insert toys, which can be randomly assembled into different shapes” as the artist highlights herself.
Her recollections inspire her in a remarkable way. In her interview with ArtVerge, Liu Huiting elaborates her artistic process that associates contemporary art with memory. She explains that “life always encounter unexpected things, whatever get or loss, they all turned into memories”. What else? Well, it’s right below.
ArtVerge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Liu Huiting: My creative experience, most of which has been the exploration of recollection, is the scenery of past life and always rests on my emotions. Moving from a small town to a city and now to a metropolis has had an important influence on my thought processes. Strolling in the cities, seeing things quite familiar, my memories from the past are woken up. I often shuttle back and forth between concepts of ‘site’ and ‘memory’. That unexpected place where reality and imagination meet becomes my primary source of inspiration.
I experimented with a wide range of medium in painting, acrylic, metal and flocking. Through the contrast relationship among materials – soft and hard, natural and artificial, liquid and solid as well as adding layers and scraping paint from the work to deconstruct the language of space and layers of memory in the different texture. Meanwhile, I make sculptures in using ceramics, which is divorced from the function of container. As its character of uncertain progress of the fire and the quality of difficult to control, I paint on clay as I paint on canvas, and it feeds me back an unexpected result. Like life always encounter unexpected things, whatever get or loss, they all turned into memories.
How would you define your work in few words?
Calm, texture, trace,
Do you have a favourite book, film or painting, which inspires you?