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September 23, 2011

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One half of the 'perfect artistic couple'

ARTIST Yu Hong and her far more famous artist husband Liu Xiaodong are considered a legend in romance as well as art. Both are famous in the New Realism Movement, depicting ordinary people, though Liu's work is often rougher and more stark.

Impressive in her own right, Yu is famous for placing ordinary subjects on a gold-foil background, giving them the aura of icons. Her works are exhibited and collected worldwide.

Today both teach at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts where they met as students and fell in love. They have been together ever since.

Sometimes called the ideal artistic couple, they are unusual in the art community where many of their peers have married, divorced and remarried.

Yu, born in Beijing in 1966, is strikingly beautiful. The couple has a teenage daughter. "Even today I can't recall why he attracted me," Yu says. "Maybe because of his excellence as a painter or because of his very different background."

Unlike Yu who comes from an intellectual family in Beijing, Liu's parents were farmers in a poor part of Liaoning Province.

In the early 1990s, a collector spotted Liu's talent and his potential in the art market and bought many of his canvases. The couple soon became well off. They built a big house in Beijing's suburbs and bought a car.

"We had craved a spacious studio for a long time," Yu says. "The space was perfect."

She says she and her husband often communicate with each other through painting.

"That's one of the advantages of marrying an artist," she says in jest.

Yu's mother once described her daughter in three words, "selfless, pure and honest."

"My life is that simple and quiet. I take care of my daughter and husband, and I am still teaching art in the academy," Yu says.


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