Liu Xiaodong was born in 1963 in Jincheng, in the province of Liaoning, China. A leading figure among the Chinese Neo-Realist painters, Liu Xiaodong depicts everyday people in his enormous oil-and-acrylic paintings, foregrounding the human dimension of global issues like economic hardship, environmental crisis, and migration. The artist often works on site, painting his subjects en plein air.
Considered a part of the New Wave or New Generation artists who emerged following the end of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Mao Zedong, Liu Xiaodong’s work is influenced by figurative realism, a key artistic legacy still thriving in contemporary Chinese art. Imbued with rawness, his paintings are composed of loose brushstrokes and rich colors, suggestive of the sometimes rough, improvised lives of his subjects. Liu Xiaodong draws upon his upbringing in rural China in his approach to his subjects, who he describes as “ordinary, everyday folks.” Painting en plein air, the artist carefully composes his tableaux; in the studio, Liu combines recreations of photographs with imagined elements. The resulting paintings are tender reminders of our humanity, where viewers can see themselves in the joys and struggles of the artist’s subjects.
Liu Xiaodong received his BFA and MFA in painting from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, where he now teaches. He continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. He has had major solo exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum, Denmark (2019); NRW-Forum and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2018); Chronus Art Centre, Shanghai, China (2016); Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy (2016); Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy (2015); Shao Zhong Foundation Art Museum, Guangzhou, China (2014); Minsheng Museum, Shanghai, China (2014); Seattle Art Museum, Washington (2013); Today Art Museum, Beijing, China (2013); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2012); Xinjiang Arts Centre, Urumqi, China (2012); and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China (2010). His work has also been included in the Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014), the Shanghai Biennale, China (2000, 2010), the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006), and the Venice Biennale, Italy (1997, 2013). Liu Xiaodong lives and works in Beijing.