Liu gained prominence as a Cynical Realist figure painter in the 1990s, creating ironic, subtly morbid portrayals of political figures and military officials that reflect both his upbringing and a sense of disillusionment experienced after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. He later worked in a more abstract, expressive manner that incorporated landscape imagery, nudes, and writing. All of these themes come together in Liu’s Flower series, where one confronts an illogical swarm of disparate media, subjects, and styles. Painted over the landscape scenes in semiopaque colors are large-scale pink flowers, phallic forms, grotesque naked figures drawn with “hairy” modeling lines, and ambiguously irreverent references to earlier masters. Crudely written words are added as gratuitous captions or comments alongside squiggles and doodles. The sexually charged imagery seems to suggest a darker realm of carnal passions that only contemporary art has been able to confront.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.