Interview with Huntz Liu

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Los Angeles-based artist Huntz Liu. The intricate and detailed work of Liu is developed by layering colorful paper, creating geometric cut-outs with a straight edge and knife. Liu is able to play with literal and perceived depth.

“It is this intersection of the literal and perceived that informs the work; where the absence of material reveals form and the casting of shadow create the line.” – Huntz Liu

In anticipation of showing his newest body of work Saturday, September 14th in the Thinkspace office space, our interview with Huntz Liu discusses artistic challenges, a life philosophy, and working at the Getty Research Center.

SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and zodiac sign? 

HL: My background is in graphic design, which I think shows in my work. I started experimenting with cut paper as a way out of the digital screen and as a respite from the keyboard and mouse. Along the way, my process evolved into layering cut material that unflattens/explodes two-dimensional forms.

My astrology sign is Cancer. 

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.

HL: ‘divide 27’ was the most challenging piece as it required constant balancing and rebalancing… be it a compositional balance or a color balance or a spatial/depth balance. Sometimes these things come quickly and sometimes they require so much time and retooling it makes you wonder if you’ve lost your ability to create.

SH: Where do you source inspiration? Do you jot inspiration down in a notebook or on your phone?

HL: I try to find inspiration everywhere… but particularly architecture and interior spaces. I keep a google doc of ideas/concepts that I’ll add to when inspiration strikes… but I’ll use a notebook if the idea is better expressed with a sketch.

SH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

HL: Favorite part is when concept and execution marry perfectly. Least favorite is battling with the logistical issues around creating (namely time and finances). 

SH: A Netflix movie is being made about your life, who would be cast to play you and what kind of movie would it be? Try to describe it with similar movies. 

HL: I mean, I guess Steven Yeun (with makeup to ugly him up some) would be cast to play me. The movie would be a cross between Great Expectations (the one w/ Ethan Hawke) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where instead of a past lover, I’d erase all memory of my work. My friends and family would receive letters telling them not to bring up xacto knives or cutting paper around me. But as there’s no escaping fate, I manage to rediscover/relearn my art. Also, no one would watch this movie.

SH: What is the best technical advice you’ve received in regards to painting / being an artist? What is the best philosophical advice you’ve received?

HL: I’m not sure if this counts as advice but I’ve always found wisdom in the saying, “God is in the details.” I try to apply it to my work, both technically and philosophically.

SH: Are you a podcast, tv/ movie streaming service, or music in the background type of painter? What were you listening to during the development of this show that you would recommend to others?

HL: All of the above. Been into the new Bon Iver album. Was also listening to Bobby Hundreds new book (on tape).

SH: What is the coolest or most exciting thing to happen to you thus far in life and is it because of or connected to your work?

HL: This is a tough question… but one of the cooler art-related things was working for the Special Collections department at the Getty Research Institute. It was one of my first jobs after graduating college and my main task was to archive/catalog their entire artists’ book collection (something like a thousand books!). I would spend entire days in a climate-controlled vault, going through books by artists like Ruscha & Baldessari, and noting their condition and status. It was like a second education for me and has since helped me understand and define my own work a little better.

SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?

HL: I think artists’ roles are wide-ranging, but generally speaking they’re here to inspire and to invoke action. When I’m experiencing art, I let it suit whatever my needs are on any particular day or in any particular moment… whether it is to inspire or motivate or humble or educate.

SH: What would a perfect day outside of the studio look like for you?

HL: Just grabbing some coffee and walking around, looking at things. 

SH: Fun Hypothetical:A world-renowned chef wants to make a dish inspired by your artwork and favorite food. What would be the dishes ingredients and what is it similar too?

HL: Probably some sort of geometric layered cake. Maybe crab flavored… ‘cause of my sign.

Join us for the presentation of new works by Huntz Liu
Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm