Kristen Liu-Wong is an artist with a unique view of life.
A casual look at this artist’s work might cause some viewers uncomfortable with nudity to look away. However, her pieces have a deeper meaning, often with a strong social message.
We’re peeking at five of Kristen Liu-Wong’s best pieces from her showing at Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery. We bet you’ll fall in love with her artwork just like we did.
Let’s check it out!
About Kristen Liu-Wong
Born in San Francisco, California, Kristen Liu-Wong has early memories of her mom introducing her to art. In fact, Kristen remembers being three years old when she made her first drawing.
Throughout elementary and high school, Kristen enjoyed creating elaborate book report covers and decorating her class folders. But it wasn’t until her Junior year that she began considering her art as more than just a hobby. She realized it was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Kristen left San Francisco when she was 17 to study illustration at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating in 2013, her work gained popularity across the country. She returned to California a few years later and currently resides in Los Angeles.
The artwork of Kristen Liu-Wong is vibrantly shocking. She uses bright neon shades and pastels and typically draws scantily clad or nude women. While her subjects are often in violent or sexual situations, the pieces aren’t necessarily vulgar.
Allowing yourself to look deeper into Kristen’s artwork, you may see the power her subjects demonstrate. Let’s check out five pieces we feel are Kristen Liu-Wong’s best examples of her unique artistic outlook.
These paintings were part of a show titled Hard Pressed the artist held at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles.
#1 She Burned All Night
Inspired partly by the 1973 film The Wicker Man, images in this painting portray men and women involved in ceremonial acts. The movie is about a remote Scottish island whose inhabitants practice Celtic paganism.
In this piece, we see naked people dancing, playing instruments, and one woman inside a wire cage with flames burning around her. In front of the enclosure are two fully-clothed women with red hoods over their heads. Together they hold a flaming torch.
Another source of inspiration for this piece came from the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Kristen wanted to create a piece that was both visually and emotionally jarring. She considers it one of her collection’s most challenging paintings.
#2 Not So Different
Laying on a red and pink checkered blanket on the grass, we see a woman crying while watching ants. The tiny workers are busily moving cheese poofs from one place to another, causing an emotional reaction in the painting’s subject.
In her Instagram post about this piece, Kristen explains how the woman sees similarities between herself and the ants. They each have their own struggles to deal with in life, and they’re really not that different from one another.
#3 Take a Load Off
Kristen Liu-Wong considers this piece to represent release, both physically and emotionally. We see a woman sitting on the toilet with a book in one hand. At her feet is a cat and around the bathroom are lit candles, potted plants, and various toiletries.
This is actually a self-portrait. Kristen’s partner took a picture of her during her morning ritual. She used it as inspiration for a painting to demonstrate one of the more relaxing parts of her day.
#4 Rushing Waters
Waterfalls are not a common image Kristen Liu-Wong includes in her artwork. But it’s the main focus of this piece. The artist explains she wanted to challenge herself to paint the rushing waters falling over a cliff’s edge.
Here we see a dark-skinned naked female sitting in the waterfall with one young man standing alongside, gazing at her beauty. He seems to be operating a video camera on a stool pointed directly at the woman. At the bottom of the falls is a voyeuristic scuba diver.
Other images in this piece represent virility (a horned stag) and fertility (colorful flowers). And a discarded piece of fruit with a bite out of it lies beneath a large apple tree. In the artist’s words, it’s “a cheeky nod to the Garden of Eden.”
#5 The Burden
Inspired by German artist Franz von Struck’s 1920 painting Sisyphus, Kristen created her own contemporary version. In Greek mythology, the male character, Sisyphus, is in hell and eternally bound to push a large boulder uphill.
Liu-Wong’s painting shows a muscular woman pushing a bundle of items, seemingly representing burdens in daily life. They include a phone with text alerts, bills, a piggy bank, birth control pills, and personal items from Kristen’s own childhood.
Crows observe in amusement while squirrels holding acorns sympathetically watch the woman pushing her bundle uphill. The artist explains, “there’s no bigger burden than that of existence and the eternal struggle to find meaning in an often meaningless world.”
We Aren’t Hard Pressed to Like Kristen Liu-Wong’s Art
Kristen Liu-Wong’s show, Hard Pressed, at the Corey Helford Gallery included ten other powerful and thought-provoking paintings. But we think these are five of the best from the collection.
Kristen has many more years to bring her art to the world. While her exhibits have been held at galleries across the country, it seems only a matter of time before she goes international.
Do you have a favorite painting from Kristen Liu-Wong? Let us know about it in the comments below.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
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