Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dik Liu

June 30, 2009 by  
Filed under contemporary realism


Dik Liu Twinkies Oil on Panel 24 x 24 inches 2006

There is no obsessive calorie counting with Dik Liu’s painting, we get the full premium brilliance. His recent paintings of gnomes, teddy bears, toys and junk food are marvelously painted with an unashamed celebration of paint and color interaction. Dik Liu says of his junk food paintings: “It is the coronation of the commonplace, serving junk food with a highfalutin art style to exalt this pedestrian food genre to the sublime. In doing so, I hope to lift junk food from its plebeian shade, and entice the viewers to appraise Twinkies anew.” Perhaps he also wants to lift observation based still-life painting from the “plebeian” status sometimes given by artword anorexics.


Dik Liu Oil on Canvas 32 X 30 inches 2008

In another artist statement he states: “These paintings glance back to the lush, pyrotechnical brushwork of Frans Hal and John Singer Sargent, while embracing the Technicolor of modernity and venturing beyond the interpretive confine now emancipated by the pluralism of contemporary art.” Which I interpret to be another way of saying that in these post-modern days it is possible to paint gorgeous gnomes with masterful technique and and not have to worry about whatever the “artworld” idiots might come up with to complain about. Despite the “technicoloristic” subject matter it’s also gutsy visual painting that needs no apologies.


Oil on Canvas 30 X 30 inches 2006

I was a student at the Mass College of Art when Dik Liu was also a student there and I’ve met and talked with him a few times over the years. He has also stopped by Painting Perceptions I’m happy to have found out. He got his MFA at Yale in the late 80’s and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Long Island University in New York. He shows at the Allen Sheppard Gallery, New York
An interesting review of his painting by John Haber can be found here. Although I found Haber somewhat irritating with his theme of faux-academic painting bashing vs modern sensibilities in Dik’s work.


Oil on Canvas 30 X 24 inches 2008


Oil on Canvas 32 X 30 inches 2006


Oil on Panel 28 X 28 inches 2003

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Comments

9 Responses to “Dik Liu”
  1. Rebecca Harp says:

    That review by Haber I found incredibly disagreeable, to be generous. Reminds me of another art critic I know, and I think it degrades Dik Liu’s work to a sort of workout with a punching bag. I don’t necessarily like his paintings exactly for the subject matter, and this leads me to wonder, could a female paint something similar with his bravura and get positive reviews?

    • Larry says:

      I haven’t found many art critics who aren’t disagreeable in some manner and too full of themselves, but then real art critics who actually know something about actual painting are a dying breed. Often you tend to just see puff pieces paid for by the people promoting the artist’s work. I’m not sure what kind of reviews she has gotten over the years but another former classmate of mine, Emily Eveleth, has been painting doughnuts for many years now – painting them with a masterful Sargentesque bravura as well as some very intelligent visual painting. I will try to do a post and possible interview with her at some point – if she agrees to it.

  2. Valentino says:

    I did not bother to read the review. However, “elevating the commonplace” to whatever level and “forcing the viewer to look at it differently” is an 100 year old concept.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have problem with it. Contemporary painters are making excellent painting based on 500 years old concepts. Liu is good painter, but I am not sure that people will appraise Twinkies or energy drink can anew as a result of being exposed to these (or other similar) paintings.
    Neither Duchamp nor Warhol succeeded in that effort. The commonplace is commonplace.

    Some items may be more colorful than others, and so more probably included in a still life arrangement, though – but IMO they will not became something special just because a painter painted them.

    • Larry says:

      Valentino, I didn’t read his review very closely but I think it’s safe to say you didn’t miss much. I can’t speak for Dik Liu of course but I suspect his “elevating the commonplace” may be just what you say for the artist statement your gallery asks you for, so you sound halfway intelligent and of a modern sensibility. God forbid anyone paint something merely because they thought it was an interesting abstract arrangement of colored forms in space and light or simply because they thought it looked cool!

  3. Robert says:

    Brilliant painting. One forgets that we’re the same society that invades countries and locks up people with drug problems. I’m not sure what paintings that are reflective of our culture should look like. Maybe these do just fine. We’re ruthless but we have a nice sense of humor.

  4. Valentino says:

    >I suspect his “elevating the commonplace” may be just what you say for the artist statement your gallery asks you for, so you sound halfway intelligent and of a modern sensibility.

    I think you’re right. One just have to make up something “halfway intelligent” (as you put it) for the artist statement when a gallery ask him for it. I didn’t think about it.

    >God forbid anyone paint something merely because they thought it was an interesting abstract arrangement of colored forms in space and light or simply because they thought it looked cool!

    Yes, unfortunately. There always must be some pretext (most often faux angst), otherwise critics and art establishment will not take you seriously, and you become marginalized instantly.

  5. Philip Koch says:

    Dik Liu is one heck of a good painter, where the “how” of his paintings goes way beyond the “what.”

  6. Olha Pryymak says:

    Great painter indeed! Words around the paintings hardly add(or subtract)anything from the first visual impression

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