Liu Dahong was born in 1962 in the city of Qingdao, Shandong province. He studied oil painting at the Shandong University of the Arts and at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou, where he was selected to participate in a master class taught by the seminal painter Zhou Wouki.
Liu first came to prominence in the late 1980s with his vivid, deftly executed and bitingly satirical versions of 'history paintings', in which he uses stylistic references from classic paintings of both the Western and Chinese traditions to chronicle, evaluate and sometimes lampoon social, political and cultural 'legends', particularly of the Cultural Revolution and post-Cultural Revolution period. In his own inimitable way, Liu Dahong opens up a new pathway for illuminating and evaluating the deeper significance of the political ideology of an era.
In creating his own unique painting language, Liu also incorporates the folkloric visual vernacular of his boyhood home in Shandong province, providing a meticulous and complex representation of the local life and his own childhood memories.
Liu's early painting series Four Seasons, completed in 1991, brought him wide recognition when it was featured in the international travelling exhibition China's New Art, Post-1989 (1993-1997) and in the intervening years he has become one of the most prominent painters of his generation.
Liu's 20-set painting, Sacrificial Altar (2000), brought the artist's uncanny ability to incorporate and transform diverse languages and historical pasts to another level: basing its formal elements on the famous Ghent Altarpiece in Belgium which features the masterwork of Dutch painting, Adoration of The Mystic Lamb by the van Eyck brothers, Liu's own version provides a kind of 'cosmic diagramme' of Communist ideology in a manner that exposes the symbolic link between European religion and its modern incarnation in political ideology. In the past decade Liu has further explored this ideological terrain in works that are both visually playful and subversively incisive.
Liu Dahong is also a brilliant satirical writer, and occasionally likes to present his painting catalogues as 'textbooks' in which his personal text narratives accompany the painting as supplementary commentaries. His works have been frequently featured in exhibitions and biennales internationally and are in many important institutional and private collections.
Press release courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.