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Liu Dan Chinese

Not on view

Shortly after finishing his monumental Ink Handscroll, Liu decided to try using watercolors for the first time, choosing a small family dictionary as his subject. Published circa 1937, the dictionary contained neither simplified characters nor Communist-inflected rhetoric. Liu’s Dictionary, therefore, can be read as a subtle commentary on how language influences the cultural identity and personal freedom of its users. Through meticulously creating effects that mimic the original object’s age and use, Liu insists on a microscopic way of looking—examining an ordinary object methodically and painstakingly, then using his art to transform it into something monumental.

Dictionary, Liu Dan (Chinese, born 1953), Ink and watercolor on paper, China

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