Leading Modern Ink Painting in Becoming the Renowned Mainstream of Chinese Art
– The Missionary of Modern Ink Painting: Liu Kuo-sung Teacher & Student Exhibition
Respected as the Father of Modern Ink Painting in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, Liu Kuo-sung has promoted the modernization of Chinese art for over fifty years. In order to revitalize Chinese ink painting in accordance to the times, Liu Kuo-sung has initialed new thought in published articles, experimented with unconventional painting materials, and created innovative painting techniques; as well as assembled artist groups, opened numerous classes with a legion of students, and tirelessly hosted countless exhibitions and academic seminars all over the world – all for the development of modern ink painting.
Back in 1965, Liu Kuo-sung boldly stated: “We are neither Chinese living in ancient times, nor are we Westerners. So neither imitating ancient Chinese nor modern Westerners is true creation!” To truly paint as a modern Chinese artist, Liu proscribed: “To paint is to constantly experiment. Break free from the limitations of ink and wash, and experiment liberally with different materials and techniques. Real creation does not allow one hundred percent control.”
Under this epochal proposition, Liu Kuo-song embodied the spirit of a scientist and transformed his studio into a laboratory. He experimented with different types of paper and ink, while absorbing the essence of the Song and Yuan dynasties, as well as studying new means of representation by Western abstract expressionists. Thus Liu successfully implemented wild-cursive calligraphy in creating “Ripping the Tendons and Pealing the Skin” technique in his Abstract Landscape series. Inspired by Cubism and the use of collage, Liu developed his famous Space series. By borrowing water painting from traditional Chinese painting methods, Liu created his “Water-Rubbing” series. Finally, by his lifelong exploration of the spontaneous qualities between ink and water, Liu developed the “Steeped-Ink” technique, and thereby developed his Tibet and Jiuzhaigou series.
With his hard-earned innovations and skillfully honed techniques, Liu Kuo-sung not only shares them with the world, but also openly demonstrates them in public. This is because Liu Kuo-sung’s faith is in art, and modern ink painting is his doctrine. With missionary zeal and dedication, Liu Kuo-sung’s purpose is to promote modern ink painting, so that the genre becomes the mainstream of modern Chinese art.
Since 2010, modern ink painting has implicitly become a worthy rival to oil painting in Chinese contemporary art. Highly acclaimed by international art institutions, collectors, and auction houses, the genre and its rise must be credited to Liu Kuo-sung’s tireless effort in hosting exhibitions and academic seminars across mainland China in the last thirty years. Since then, countless Chinese artists have acknowledged being inspired by Liu’s theories and innovations. In recognition of Liu’s accomplishments and contributions to Chinese art and art education in China, in 2011 China’s Ministry of Culture bestowed Liu with the Chinese Art and Literature Life-time Achievement Award.
In recent years, Liu Kuo-sung has assembled the Tension of the White Line painting group and also Liu Kuo-sung Teacher & Student Exhibition in numerous private and public art museums in Taiwan and China. Together, these artist who share the same faith in modern ink painting, wield their own artistic styles to bring forward brand new possibilities in ink and wash. And yet, this is only the beginning to the rise of the fascinating genre. Liu Kuo-sung’s dream of leading modern ink painting in becoming the renowned mainstream of Chinese art has finally been realized.
Richard MC Chang