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Message in a bottle
Out and About NSW, ACT

24 August 2011
Bridget Cormack

The Australian


"Like the Chinese condition," Liu Zhuoquan says, "the act of painting inside a tight, curved space can be difficult and frustrating." The Beijing based artist uses a technique pioneered in snuff bottle painting to decorate the insides of bottles with social commentary. He has painted severed hands and fingers inside 28 bottles in Broken Finger, pictured, which is showing in his first exhibition at Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane until September 10. Liu says he was making a documentary about factory workers when he found out most work related accidents entailed the loss of fingers. "It made me wonder how many fingers have been lost over the years," he says. Another bottle is decorated with green llama. "This work relates to a substitute language we have developed to use on the internet...to allow us to speak more freely. I use the name of this animal, which sounds very similar to another Chinese phrase, when I want to write on my blog." He says art "won't really change things in China", but it can be a form of expression. "The bottle is a metaphor for cultural struggle in a tight, sometimes suffocating environment."

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