Chinese-Canadian artist Crystal Liu exhibits new paintings and collages on paper and works “painted” with felted wool in her first solo exhibition in New York. Liu transforms elements of nature-
the night, stars, clouds, fleshy mountains, willow trees, blood, water, owls, octopuses-into a lexicon of characters that enact extraordinary tales based on her private joys and sorrows.
Lacy, floral patterns and charming creatures belie impending peril. Flood waters threaten fragile weeping willow trees. Blood drips from a house shattered by the falling night. ‘Family trees’ are made literal as they come to life, but the houses perched in their branches must camouflage themselves in protective leaves.
Liu’s work can be likened to Chinese landscape painting, in which every stroke and image is layered with meaning. But she subverts the serenity of these traditional scenes with violent forces. Liu’s choice of materials, including fabric, gold leaf, felt, and textured paper, provides a subtle balance between seduction, humor and the macabre.