Lucy Liu: On-Screen and On-Canvas

Interview

Friday, November 15, 2013

In the mid-1990s, a promising young artist started showing her paintings and photographs at galleries in New York. Over the years, Yu Ling built a respectable career with exhibits in Los Angeles, Miami, Munich, and London. Then a few years ago, the art world learned that Yu Ling is also Lucy Liu, co-star of Ally McBeal, Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill, and now the CBS series Elementary.

Lucy Liu grew up in Queens, in a very traditional Chinese family (Yu Ling is her Chinese name). Her parents weren’t even skeptical about a career in acting, she tells Kurt Andersen: “It was sort of like, 'what is that?' There wasn’t even a category for art.” Then she got cast as the lead in a play at the University of Michigan, “and that was the first time I recognized that as somebody who was Asian, I could do something that was not behind the scenes.” She still struggles with typecasting, though — for years after Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, she was asked to play villains who knew kung fu. Currently she’s the mild-mannered Joan Watson, the sidekick to Sherlock Holmes on Elementary, a reboot set in present-day New York.

While she was becoming a movie star, Liu seriously pursued painting, sometimes bringing paints and canvases to her trailer. Liu’s paintings range from figurative to abstract, but only recently embraced Chinese imagery in her latest work, Seventy-Two. A new book of her work bears the name Lucy Liu. “People are going to criticize whether you use your name or not,” she realized. “I decided to embrace it fully and just go for it."

 

Slideshow: Lucy Liu's paintings

Seventy Two series (No. 18), Fertility, 2009
© Lucy Liu

Seventy Two series (No. 18), Fertility, 2009

Seventy Two series (No. 42), Revealing The Concealed, 2009
© Lucy Liu

Seventy Two series (No. 42), Revealing The Concealed, 2009

Seventy Two series (No. 56), Dispelling Anger, 2009
© Lucy Liu

Seventy Two series (No. 56), Dispelling Anger, 2009

Seventy Two series (No. 71), Prophecy and Parallel Universes, 2009
© Lucy Liu

Seventy Two series (No. 71), Prophecy and Parallel Universes, 2009

Seventy Two series (No. 72), Spiritual Cleansing, 2009
© Lucy Liu

Seventy Two series (No. 72), Spiritual Cleansing, 2009

Lucy Liu's 3 for 360
Lucy Liu's 3 for 360

1. Marie Antoinette Soho Rep
2. Glass Menagerie Broadway
3. BAM's all-woman Julius Ceasar

    Music Playlist
  1. Independent Woman (Instrumental) [In the Style of Destiny's Child]
    Album: Pop Instrumentals: Noughties Classics, Vol. 39
    Label: SingSongs Music Limited
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Run Fay Run
    Artist: Isaac Hayes
    Album: Kill Bill Vol.1 Original Soundtrack
    Label: Maverick
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Lucy Liu

Produced by:

Eric Molinsky

Comments [2]

Anthony C Duncan from Boston,Mass

I feel this a amazeing women to start, it shows thete's more to her then just beinh someone beautiful. I love everything about ms.lucy liu and wish her the best in what ever she do.!!!

Feb. 03 2014 10:15 AM
Dave K from Brooklyn

These paintings remind me of imagery seen in Japanese horror flicks and comics. If it weren't for the titles, I might interpret in in much stranger ways.

#1 Fertility at first glance reminds me of a bowl, food and toilet. It's the cornucopia of life while the dark pit of despair when you can't create. Funny how something two color and seemingly simple can create such different emotions for me.

Nov. 15 2013 04:55 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.