Hung Liu – Modern Time
Dimensions: 66 x 168″
Medium: oil on canvas with lacquered wood, cultural revolution clocks
(C) Hung Liu Estate/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Based on a 1960s photograph of a daydreaming cafeteria worker, Modern Time presents a double image of two very different dreams. On the right, a worker is momentarily lost in a reverie, yet caught in the modern dream of a socialist utopia, whose pantheon of theorists and politicians (Marx, Engles, Lenin, and Stalin) hangs above her on a wall of Chinese red. On the left, that same worker–now taking on the musings of the artist–dreams of a different modernity, one less rational, more fluid and expressionistic, than political ideology might allow. The portraits above her are by–and in one case, of–Vincent Van Gogh, whose tragic alienation from modern society suggests individual nightmares as much as collective dreaming. Meanwhile, the Mao-clocks on the shelves around the painting tick away as modern time unwinds its revolutionary inevitability.