header image


Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands

With this exhibition, the National Portrait Gallery’s first retrospective devoted to an Asian American woman, we celebrate Hung Liu, whose paintings have established new frameworks for understanding portraiture in relation to time, memory, and history. Liu’s empathic world view guided her practice for over five decades. She pictured forgotten histories as a way to reclaim lost lives and reckon with the past.

It was an enormous privilege and honor to work closely with Hung Liu on this exhibition. In early August 2021, days before she passed away, we spent time together in her studio in Oakland, California. Even then, she remained committed to shining a light on others, especially those at risk of being forgotten. Her deeply generous, vibrant spirit lives on and is present in "Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands." According to Liu, “Things of the spirit stay with us much longer than things of the flesh.”

As we emerge from a period of isolation and confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we work against xenophobia in communities across the United States, Liu’s powerful vision provides an opportunity for reflecting on the importance of resilience and renewal.

Dorothy Moss Curator of Painting and Sculpture

"Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands" will be on view at the National Portrait Gallery August 27, 2021, through May 30, 2022

30 mins