Trained as a socialist realist painter during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (that's Mao Tse-tung's epic freakout in the 1960s, for those of us born in the U.S. of Undereducation), Hung Liu eventually made her way to San Diego. That trajectory led to her current brilliance her art combines that strict aesthetic background with dreamy veils of paint and snippets of traditional Chinese iconography. "Daughters of China, 1938" is her recent exhibition, inspired by a film about female soldiers' heroism in the Sino-Japanese War. Because Liu normally works with images taken from old photographs, the show is something of a departure, but her use of film stills means her hallmarks remain. Dripping mists cover portraits of flawless technical perfection, yet somehow emotion pulses from the canvas. Instead of Liu's customary overlaid viny flowers and helpful birds, this collection takes blocky shapes as its visual motif, echoing the letterbox format of films (her anchoring circles remain, however). A major innovation comes in the form of Offerings, a video piece accompanied by eight small works on scrolls. Fascinatingly, the titles of the paintings are all taken from the "The Internationale," the socialist anthem, but before you go thinking this is an anti- Communist statement, remember that "The Internationale" was sung in Tiananmen Square.
Oct. 18-Nov. 24, 2007