Liu Zheng

China 1969

Conceptual Art, Photography

Liu Zheng
Liu Zheng
February 12, 2015
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Liu Zheng is a Chinese conceptual photographic artist born in Wuquang Hsien, Heibei Province in 1969. His photographs typically capture moments in which archetypal Chinese figures are encountered in contemporary incarnations, and often in extreme and unexpected situations. Some of his subjects have included Taoist priests, street eccentrics, homeless children, transvestite performers, provincial drug traffickers, coal miners, Buddhist monks, prison inmates, and bizarre waxwork figures in historical museums. Among Liu’s most striking photographs are his many portraits of the dead and dying, they include men and women of widely varying ages and social stations.

Soon after his family had moved to Datong in 1987, Liu Zheng headed to Beijing to major in optical engineering at the Beijing Technological Institute. After graduation in 1991, he got a job as a photo-journalist for Workers’ Daily, and was assigned to the cover the coal-mining industry, which he did for more than a year. In 1993 Liu established the Topic Photo Group and began work on the series Countrymen, in which he explored the exoticism of ethnic minorities regions and set the stage for his later tripartite project re-examining “China’s People, Myths and History”—the Three Realms series. This was initiated in 1995 together with the publication of a private printed serial entitled New Photo in cooperation with Rong Rong (Lu Zhirong) and Jin Yongquan and dedicated to conceptual photography. In 1997 Liu left the job at the newspaper for a freelance career, continuing his artistic projects, which soon came to include the Peking Opera series.

First shown in a solo show at the Taipei Photo Gallery in 1998, these works are “simulated theatrical stills” (Wu Hong) inspired by the old photo-compositions of 1920s-30s Shanghai and recounted in traditional opera stories like The Legend of the White Snake (Baishe Zhuan). The vintage flavor suggested by a brownish-antique finish, the static and dramatized postures, and the placement of the subjects on a prearranged studio-stage with a weightless painted backdrop recall a nostalgia for a recent past, while the nudity and uninhibited poses load the works with the texture of contemporary kitsch.

Liu Zheng’s sophisticated style and unique technique has won him a part in major art events like the exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Photography at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin, 1997, the Tachikawa Art Festival in Tokyo and New York, 1999, the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003 and the ICP Triennale, ICP, New York, 2003, among many others.

He currently lives and works in Beijing, China.

YearName of the exhibitionMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2012A Prayer is a Prayer is a PrayerAndrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NYgroup
2010Water: Caochangdi PhotospringPekin Fine Arts, Bejing, Chinagroup
2009Dream ShockZen Foto Gallery, Tokyo, Japansolo
2009Spotlight 30 Ladies, Spotlight 20 BrandsPapertainer Museum, Seoul Olympic Park, Koreagroup
2009Photography Now: China, Japan, KoreaSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAgroup
2008Dream Shock New Beijing Gallery, Beijing, Chinasolo
2006Under The SunArt Beijing 2006, Beijing, Chinasolo
2006Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from ChinaHaus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germanygroup
2006Spotlight 30 Ladies, Spotlight 30 BrandsPapertainer Museum, Seoul Olympic Park, Seoul, Koreagroup
2006Mahjong, Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionHamburg Kunsthall, Germanygroup
2006Fever VariationsThe 6th Gwangju Biennale 2006, Koreagroup
2006Beautiful suffeing: Photography and the Traffic in PainWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Mass, USAgroup
2006Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From ChinaHouse of World Culture, Berlin, Germanygroup
2006The Chinese: Photography and Video From ChinaStedelijk Museum's - Hertogenbosch, the Netherlandsgroup
2006Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From ChinaSanta Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, Californiagroup
2005Liu Zheng, SurviansSOHO New Town, Beijing, Chinasolo
2005Liu ZhengYossi Milo Gallery, New York, USAsolo
2005Baroque and NeobaroqueDA2. Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spaingroup
2005Chinese Art at the Threshold of the New MilleniumMori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japangroup
2005Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From ChinaVictoria and Albert Museum, London, UKgroup
2005About BeautyHouse of World Culture, Berlin, Germanygroup
2005Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From ChinaSeattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, USAgroup
2005Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From ChinaChicago Museum of Contemporary Art and the Smart Museum at U.Chicago, Chicago, USAgroup
2004Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from ChinaInternational Center of Photography, NY, USAgroup
2004The ChineseKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany, group
2004Techniques of the Visible5th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, Chinagroup
2004MeCourtyard Gallery, Beijing, Chinagroup
2004Revolution798 Photo Gallery, Beijing, Chinagroup
2004FIACParis, Francegroup
2004The ArmoryNYC, USAgroup
2003Liu ZhengRencontres d'Arles Photography Festival in Arles, Arles, Francesolo
2003Arsenale50th Venice Biennale, Italygroup
2003Courtyard GalleryFIAC 2003, Paris, Francegroup
2003A Strange Heaven - Contemporary Chinese PhotographyGaleri Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republicgroup
2003 Artists Summer Group ExhibitionCourtyard Gallery, Beijing, Chinagroup
2003Courtyard GalleryARCO 03, Madrid, Spaingroup
2003Strangers: The First ICP Triennial of Photography and VideoInternational Center of Photography, New York, USAgroup
2003Paris-Pekin, Miriam and Guy Ullens Collection ExpositionEspace Cardin, Paris, Francegroup
2002Liu Zheng2nd Annual Asian Photo Festival, Sagamihara, Japansolo
20022nd Pingyao International Photography FestivalPingyao, Shanxi Province, Chinasolo
2002Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese ArtThe 1st Guangzhou Triennale, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangdong, Chinagroup
2002Guangd2nd Pingyao IntlPhotography Festival, Pingyao, Chinagroup
2001The ChineseCentral Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, Chinasolo
2001A Man, A Woman, A MachineThe Center of Attention Gallery, London, UKgroup
2001Next GenerationPassage de Retz, Paris, Francegroup
2001Photographie Contemporaine ChinoiseLoft Gallery, Paris, Francegroup
1999Love: Chinese Contemporary Photography & VideoTachikawa Art Festival, Tokyo, Japangroup
1999Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of 20th CenturyDavid & Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, USAgroup
1998Three Realms and The ChinesePhoto Gallery, Taipei, Chinasolo
1998Contemporary Chinese Photography StadtischeKunstsammlungen chemnitz, Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Germanygroup
1997Contemporary Chinese PhotographyNeuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany