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Shunga

Shunga

The Japanese term shunga refers to a form of erotic art that is customarily depicted in ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodblock, imagery. It was especially popular in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries as an instructional tool for an ideally balanced life. Liu became intrigued by the overt sexual content of shunga. She found it to be a stark contrast to her own cultural upbringing, in which sex was treated as a closely guarded secret. Departing from shunga’s origins as precisely rendered imagery in a small print medium, Liu created a series of paintings in an exaggerated, large scale, in which the sexual subject matter is made blatant and undeniable in proportion to its status as a taboo topic during her adolescence. Liu made the paintings by stapling canvas directly the wall and applying colorful paints in thick, loose, broad strokes—a process that Liu found as liberating as the graphic subject matter of shunga itself.

Written by Jennifer Field

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Shunga