New American Paintings/Blog


Charlene Liu’s Triple Threat at Taylor De Cordoba by New American Paintings
May 9, 2012, 8:20 am
Filed under: Los Angeles, Review | Tags: , ,

In her third solo show “Everywhere Close to Me” at Taylor De Cordoba, Charlene Liu creates and mediates really special moments with her works on paper.  Using delicate cutouts, overlapping and woven papers, and sculptural pigmented pulpy constructs, Liu creates a world that is both delicate and daring.

Continuing to experiment with and expand upon her works on paper, Liu mixes, introduces, and pits her soft, organic, handmade, pigmented pulp paper against sharp acrylic lacquered cutouts and flattened painted paper surfaces.  Here, bold colors and hard edges interplay and mix with soft shapes and fluid lines. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Charlene Liu | Swoop and cyclone, 2012, watercolor, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, 51.5” x 40.5” Courtesy of Taylor De Cordoba.


Charlene Liu | Swoop and cyclone, DETAIL, Courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell.

Charlene Liu | Swoop and cyclone, DETAIL,  Courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell.

Both “Amid the fleeting light” and “Swoops and cyclone” looked and felt more like works from Liu’s previous two shows If it Were a Slow Echo (2009) and Before the Storm (2007).  Though with the sculptural paper additions, they were more three-dimensional and challenging than her previous works.

In addition to the bold colors, many of Liu’s works are extremely delicate and feel almost tenuous in terms of physical construction and sheer pastel color.  The intimate details in these cutouts feels unreal and unimaginable – in terms of actually working with the paper, sculpting it or cutting it, manipulating the work, moving and shipping the pieces, and installing it without harm.


Charlene Liu | And if suddenly (DETAIL), 2012, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, acrylic, 34.5” x 27.5” Courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell.

Charlene Liu | Comings and goings (DETAIL), 2012, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, acrylic, 37” x 35” Courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell.

My favorite moments in the show come when she sculpts and places dangling paper outliers outside of the frame of the mounted paper background itself, so that these paper pieces encroach upon gallery’s wall space (as with “And if suddenly” and “Comings and goings”) and into viewer’s standing space (as with “Amid the Fleeting Light”).


Charlene Liu | Amid the fleeting light, 2012, watercolor, acrylic, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, 48” x 39” x 2” Courtesy of Taylor De Cordoba.

Charlene Liu | Amid the fleeting light (DETAIL). Courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell.

It is this sculptural encroachment that kept pulling me back to “Amid the fleeting light.”  Amidst the three-dimensional mounting of paper folds, strands of what seem to be paper pearls dangle from the branches and mounds of paper that lie at the heart of the painting.  Somehow these precise geometric circles are hidden beneath the beautiful organic chaos and amidst the larger abstracted shapes that Liu has painted, layered, and manipulated.

The outcome is intricate, compelling, and aesthetically pleasing.  It isn’t often that I find painting triple-threats: works that are challenging in conception, unconventional and experimental in process, and aesthetically desirable for hanging in my home.


Charlene Liu | Comings and goings. 2012, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, acrylic, 37” x 35” Courtesy of Taylor De Cordoba.

For me, Liu’s work goes beyond satisfying all three of these categories, and instead knocks them all out of the park.  Photographs don’t do her work justice, so I definitely recommend stopping by in person.

Charlene Liu’s solo show runs at Taylor De Cordoba through May 19th. Liu lives and works in Eugene, OR where she is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.

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