The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture must approve all works in Beijing exhibitions. After months of going back and forth with the bureau, the UCCA received notice that they would not receive the necessary approval to import works for Liu’s show. The news comes amid growing tensions in China’s cultural sector; a Shanghai outpost of Paris’s Centre Pompidou
weeks ago amid reports that Chinese authorities had censored works in its inaugural exhibition.
According to the New York Times
, one work that authorities specifically censored in Liu’s show was a 2011 painting of schoolgirls wearing gas masks, based on a World War II-era photograph of an air raid drill.
“The message is antiwar so I thought it was O.K., but when I talked with my Chinese artist friends about it, they just said one word: Hong Kong,” Liu told the Times
, referring to the ongoing protests
in Hong Kong, where protesters have been banned from wearing face masks, but many continue to do so anyway.
Liu told TAN that she has shown works in Beijing and Shanghai before, including works that were going to be included in her UCCA show. The artist was born in China and was sent to complete manual labor in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. She moved to the United States in 1984. She will be the subject of a retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2021.