Lucy Liu, from actor to artist

Actor and film producer Lucy Liu is trying out new things with a new book of illustrations.

Reuters November 04, 2011


Actor and film producer Lucy Liu is trying out new things with a new book of illustrations that explores Kabbalah and meditation.

Liu, 42, best known for roles in television series “Ally McBeal” and in the Charlie’s Angels films, worked out of her Chelsea studio in Manhattan to create a series of abstract black-and-white illustrations using ink and acrylic paint on watercolour paper that were compiled into a book, Lucy Liu: Seventy Two, released last month.

The series of paintings is based on a chart of 72 names of God in the Kabbalah, a mystical branch of Judaism. While not a practitioner of Kabbalah, Liu is inspired by the names. “I felt drawn to the chart because I thought it was so fascinating,” says Lui. “I love the way they categorise everything into boxes, I love the organisation of that.”

While the actor is not a trained artist — she refers to her work as ‘outsider art’ — she is inspired by people such as painter and printmaker Robert Motherwell and also draws from her own Chinese heritage, specifically calligraphy. “It’s a special thing to be able to come from another place and retain that culture,” says Liu of her ethnicity. “It’s so fascinating to see the progression of how China is becoming more connected to the US.”

Made in Italy

Publishers Salma Editions took the book to Italy and produced it in the city of Verona, something that Liu says she was “bowled over by”.

“I’ve always had an appreciation for books, but now I can see the detail and options they have,” she says. “There are so many different options on how you want to present the book.”

The result is a highly-produced coffee table book, and the paintings are accompanied by essays from spiritual doctor Deepak Chopra and meditations written by Liu herself. “Meditation is such a wonderful way of connecting to a larger part of yourself that you’re not really aware of. I thought there was a connection between what I believe in Eastern philosophy and the Kabbalah mentality,” states the actor.

Liu grew up without any specific religious orientation, and given the book’s religious foundation, she says she had concerns about how it might be interpreted by people. “The book is about sharing, but you don’t want to be intrusive or invasive to other people,” comments Liu. “I did grow up believing there is something greater than we are, and I think that’s that I tapped in to.”

After launching her book, the actor is back to her day job and will be seen in two upcoming independent films, Nomads and The Man With The Iron Fists, along with rigorously training for a recurring role in the upcoming season of Emmy-winning police drama “Southland”.

As for producing more artwork, the star remains unsure. “The book changed me, and I love that,” she said. “This book was very specific only because it had a base and a chart to go off. I would have to find another focus to get me into that place” says Liu.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th,  2011.


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