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b. 1979, China

Pixy Liao Biography

Pixy Liao's photographic practice is defined by a bright, colourful palette and careful staging. Her works frequently involve the human figure, as seen in her 'Experimental Relationship' series (2007–ongoing), which captured the artist with her boyfriend, Moro. The couple stages themselves in a range of intimate poses, including Moro draped over Liao's shoulders (It's Never Been Easy to Carry You, 2013) or lying across her lap submissively, baring his behind to her looming hand while she stares at the camera in a defiant manner (Ass Drumming, 2015).

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Upending gender roles to question heteronormative relationships, Liao started 'Experimental Relationship' during her MFA in Photography at the University of Memphis, where she met Moro. Born in Shanghai in 1979, Liao came to art quite late, deciding after her initial studies in China that she wanted to become a graphic designer. However, feeling that graphic design did not enable control over her creativity, she enrolled at the University of Memphis in 2006. There, the artist developed a strong visual style, first captured in 'Memphis, Tennessee' (2006–2008). In this series, the geometry of Liao's earlier career as a graphic designer is visible, along with the bold colours of the architectural structures and interiors that characterise Memphis, including its iconic dive bars. In her 2019 conversation with Ocula Magazine, Liao notes that she was inspired to study at the University of Memphis by her love of Elvis Presley. 'Memphis, Tennessee' preceded her relocation to Brooklyn, New York, where she continues to develop 'Experimental Relationship' with Moro.

Recently, Liao has sought to examine powerful female figures in history, investigating those who 'tend to have bad names because they were ruthless women'. Inspired by contemporary political events such as then-presidential Donald Trump's 'nasty woman' statement about opponent Hillary Clinton in 2016, the artist started 'Evil Women Cult' (2019–ongoing), a conceptual series of works that pay homage to female leaders in history. Temple for Her (2019) was first presented at Flyweight—a 1:12-scale exhibition space in New York—and is dedicated to China's only empress, Wu Zetian (624–705). Wu's name is tainted in history for the ruthless means through which she attained leadership, even though her actions were comparable to those of men in similar positions. In the installation, the artist's characteristic bright colours form the outline of a female body in a shallow mould filled with a liquid that resembles blood. Placed against the wall is a narrow red staircase that symbolises 'the lonely path the Empress took all the way to the top'.

Liao is a recipient of a NYFA Fellowship in Photography; Santo Foundation Individual Artist Awards; Jimei x Arles Madame Figaro China Women Photographers Award; En Foco's New Work Fellowship; and LensCulture Exposure Awards. Her work has been exhibited at the Rencontres d'Arles, France (2019); Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival, Xiamen, China (2018); and the Chinese American Art Council, New York (2011), among others.

Tessa Moldan | Ocula | 2019

Pixy Liao Featured Artworks

Golden Mouse 金鼠 by Pixy Liao contemporary artwork
Pixy LiaoGolden Mouse 金鼠, 2014Inkjet print
40.6 x 51 cm
Chambers Fine Art Contact Gallery
Open Kimono 敞开的和服 by Pixy Liao contemporary artwork
Pixy LiaoOpen Kimono 敞开的和服, 2018Digital C-print
50.5 x 40.5 cm
Chambers Fine Art Contact Gallery
Temple For Her by Pixy Liao contemporary artwork
Pixy LiaoTemple For Her, 2019Ceramics, wood, acrylic, reflective film, vinyl sticker, enamel paint and fake blood
68.5 x 68.5 x 48 cm
Chambers Fine Art Contact Gallery
Find A Woman You Can Rely On by Pixy Liao contemporary artwork
Pixy LiaoFind A Woman You Can Rely On, 2018Digital C-print
152 x 114 cm
Chambers Fine Art Contact Gallery
The Woman Who Clicks The Shutter by Pixy Liao contemporary artwork
Pixy LiaoThe Woman Who Clicks The Shutter, 2018Digital C-print
51 x 40.5 cm
Chambers Fine Art Contact Gallery
Holding by Pixy Liao contemporary artwork
Pixy LiaoHolding, 2014Digital c-print
40.5 x 51 cm
Chambers Fine Art Contact Gallery

Pixy Liao Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Pixy Liao, Experimental Pop-up! at Chambers Fine Art, Beijing
Closed
7–14 September 2019 Pixy Liao Experimental Pop-up! Chambers Fine ArtBeijing
Contemporary art exhibition, Pixy Liao, Open Kimono at Chambers Fine Art, New York
Closed
7 March–29 April 2019 Pixy Liao Open Kimono Chambers Fine ArtNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, When We Become Us at Capsule Shanghai, Shanghai
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15 October–27 November 2016 Group Exhibition When We Become Us Capsule ShanghaiShanghai

Pixy Liao Represented By

Capsule Shanghai contemporary art gallery in Shanghai, China Capsule Shanghai Shanghai
Chambers Fine Art contemporary art gallery in Beijing, China Chambers Fine Art New York, Beijing

Pixy Liao In Ocula Magazine

Holy Mosses: Queer Eco-Aesthetics at Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong Ocula Insight Holy Mosses: Queer Eco-Aesthetics at Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong By Emily Verla Bovino, Hong Kong

Holy Mosses, the title of an eight-artist exhibition curated by Nick Yu at Hong Kong 's Blindspot Gallery, is a playful misspelling of 'Holy Moses', the gospel-inflected exclamation from Elton John's 'Border Song' (1970) made famous by Aretha Franklin's cover from 1972. 'Holy Moses, I have been removed', the song's first verse pronounces. It...

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Pixy Liao: Learning to Live Together Ocula Conversation Pixy Liao: Learning to Live Together By Emma-Kate Wilson, Beijing

In 2007, while still at university studying for her MFA in photography, Pixy Liao met her Japanese boyfriend, Moro. As Moro was five years her junior, they fell naturally into male submission/female domination roles, and their relationship sparked the ongoing series, 'Experimental Relationship' (2007–ongoing), which challenges gender roles. In...

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Pixy Liao In Related Press

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what pixy liao’s photography tells us about love Related Press what pixy liao’s photography tells us about love 13 August 2019, i-D

If it wasn't for the film Blow-Up, Pixy Liao may never have become a photographer. Working as a graphic designer in Shanghai and deeply dissatisfied with the lack of creative control she had over her own work, after watching Michelangelo Antonioni's cult classic about a fashion photographer loosely based on David Bailey, she was inspired to make...

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Photographer Pixy Liao on how humour and Japanese cinema shape her work Related Press Photographer Pixy Liao on how humour and Japanese cinema shape her work 20 March 2019, Dazed

On an unusually warm March weekday afternoon, between lunch and rush hour, the Chambers Fine Art gallery in Manhattan is empty of people. Diminutive with a sharp bob and a multi-coloured patchwork sweater, Pixy Liao emerges from a back office, a small paint can in her hand. She's slightly startled to see me, five minutes early and ready to chat...

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'I was much more dominant': Pixy Liao's surreal photography disrupts relationship stereotypes Related Press 'I was much more dominant': Pixy Liao's surreal photography disrupts relationship stereotypes 4 January 2019, CNN

hen Pixy Liao landed at the University of Memphis in 2006 to study photography, she wasn't quite sure what to photograph. 'I was having culture shock, coming from China,' she said on the phone from her Brooklyn apartment. 'I didn't know who I should be.' She tried landscapes and self-portraiture, using the camera to process her new environment...

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Pixy Liao’s Experimental Relationship charts a decade of love Related Press Pixy Liao’s Experimental Relationship charts a decade of love 9 November 2018, British Journal of Photography

Last year, after a decade of creating hundreds of images for a project about her relationship, Pixy Liao decided it was finally time to create a book. 'I'm not a very productive photographer, so I always felt like I didn't have enough images' she says, 'but ten years felt like the right time'.

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