Huntz Liu is a Taiwanese American artist born and currently based in Los Angeles. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.
Using only a straight-edge, a knife and reams of colored paper, Liu’s signature work is comprised of complex, geometric, cut-paper sculptures.
Upon initial contemplation of Liu’s work – one comparison that comes to mind is the way in which an expert jeweler might take a rough stone, and through expert cutting, reveal its depth, dazzle, and inner beauty.
Championed by Thinkspace and Giant Robot galleries in Los Angeles and the Muriel Guepin gallery in New York, the past decade of Liu’s shows illustrate the trajectory of his development as an artist, and his painstaking journey to push the boundaries of his craft.
As current, relevant, and contemporary as Liu’s work is, it should be noted that the term craft – not in a pejorative sense – can be used to describe his work.
The precise definition of craft is “an ability involving skill by making things by hand.” In the context of today’s contemporary art world, with an increasing number of artists using innovative computer software, videography, and other technological advances, Liu seems timeless. Using only his simple tools, a Zen-like focus, and a great deal of patience, he emits a singularly solitary feel.
He explains his thought process, “My work revolves around the notion of imaginary spaces and non-figurative objects that are self-sufficient and self-sustained within their compositions. I am intrigued by the mechanisms and kinetics found within both technological and natural structures: organic and mechanical. Working with cut paper allows me the opportunity to explore the underlying layers (literally and figuratively) that drive both systems and is an extended reflection of the human condition and our position above, yet never beyond nature.”
To coincide with his exhibition Addition Through Subtraction (2020) Juxtapose magazine applauded Liu, writing: “The beauty of the sculptural painting works of Huntz Liu, who cuts and layers paper into beautiful, geometric compositions, is that he tempers his layers with a smart ability to not overdo the materials. Everything feels in perfect balance, just right.”
Liu adds, “It is the intersection of the literal and the perceived that their form, and the casting of shadow that creates lines.”
As Liu is an American artist, one hesitates to make a comparison that Liu himself has not. Yet considering his Taiwanese descent, it is tempting to wonder what influence (if any) the aesthetic practices of paper-folding – particular to Asia – have served as inspiration.
One immediately thinks of the ancient practice of Origami, the art form that originated in Japan in the 6th Century. It was originally known as orikata (folded shapes), and in1880, became known as origami, from the Japanese words oru (to fold) and kami (paper).
Liu does reveal that major influences on his work include contemporary architecture and innovative interiors; most notably the Salk Institute, Bauhaus Dessau, the Getty Center and the Musee d’Orsay. And when asked which five people (alive or dead) he would most like to have dinner with, he answers, “Bruce Lee, Kanye, Nefertiti, Elliot Smith and Duchamp…., getting our hands dirty at a Boiling Crab.”
Exhibitions of Liu’s works offer a dizzying treat of color and a feeling of art in flight. The works are sliced, quartered, halved and spherical, suggesting the “popping” bizarre of the best of Frank Stella’s geometric compositions, mobiles made from Bridget Riley’s Op-Art, or a carving into the geometry behind Malevich’s Supremacist masterpieces.
Liu is a man of refreshing humility. He says that he struggles with labels in the world of art, and often thinks of himself not as an artist, nor as an intellectual creator of pieces of art, nor even as the arbiter of what the finished product reveals.
“Artist” and “art” are two of the words I use, though they are just the easiest. Artists really are just conduits for the work (where the meaning should exist).”
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