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.
Sotheby's, New York September 20, 2007; to Yang
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.