The painting by Fred H. C. Liang that hangs next to my desk. Its surface, almost impossible to capture in a photograph, pulls me into its labyrinth of layers every time.


Closer view

Boston-based Fred H. C. Liang is one of my favorite artists and also a finalist for the ICA’s Audrey Foster prize. He blends an ongoing homage to his Chinese heritage with a visually rich and complex approach to painting, printmaking, sculpture, installations. Congrats to you Fred.

From Sebastian Smee’s response to the Foster Prize finalists in the Boston Globe:

Fred H. C. Liang…left China when he was 12 and came to the United States via Canada. Liang combines Eastern and Western idioms to eye-catching effect. His work here includes a decorative, free-form version of traditional Chinese paper cutouts that combine elaborately detailed drawing with screen printing. Resembling a rococo or Song Dynasty interpretation of a world map, the thing sprawls across two walls and onto the floor, where the patterns, which include the glimpsed forms of Chinese zodiac animals, are imposed on a reflective surface.

Titled “Dream of a Thousand Springs,’’ it’s seductive without quite transcending its own prettiness. Better is Liang’s “Untitled (Nushu),’’ a paper accordion book on a plywood plinth that stretches up 10 feet toward the ceiling. Cut into each page are Chinese symbols based on “nu shu,’’ a recently rediscovered secret language invented and used by women in southern China. The form of the piece is deeply satisfying, and the sense of buried secrets rising and expanding into open air charmingly poetic.

A video of the installation is available with Smee’s article if you are unable to see the ICA show in person.

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