The High Tide of Qiantang River

The Scripture of a Missionary of Modern Ink Painting II, Lofty Culture & Art, 2015
by Elaine Suyu Liu

Liu Kuo-sung, The High Tide of Qiantang River, 1974, Ink and Color on Paper, 45 x 87.5 cm © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives

This is an early representational work of Liu Kuo-sung’s “Water-rubbing” technique. “Water-rubbing” involves dripping drops of ink onto a water’s surface, then as the ink slowly spreads within the water, rice paper is placed onto the water to absorb the ink as it appears on the surface. From there, the inked image is further treated. This technique entails a great degree of chance and reflects the ingenuity of the artist.

The painting is primarily composed of natural flowing lines created by “Water-rubbing,” like waves churning across the image. On the left side of the painting, a patch of heavy-fibered paper featuring the “Ripping the Tendons, and Pealing the Skin” technique is pasted on the image in the style of collage. It resembles an imposing mountain peak, and is balanced by a secondary peak in the bottom right corner. Between the two standing mountains, the river’s tide surges from one end to another, and the imagery evokes the polarities between repose and movement. Lastly, the full moon completes the imagery by alluding to the tradition of moon-watching on the Qiantang river during the Mid-autumn Festival.

Icy Tree with Silver Branches

Catalog Entry
What Liu Kuo-sung’s Icy Tree with Silver Branches Conveys Is Perseverance
Set against an icy outcrop, clusters of snow-clad branches dominate the painting. Despite the weight of winter snow, the branches remain upright and shoot toward the sky, patiently waiting for the arrival of spring.
Liu Kuo-sung, Icy Tree with Silver Branches, 2009 © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives

Mountain Light Blown Into Wrinkles

Catalog Entry
The Scripture of a Missionary of Modern Ink Painting II
Starting in 1977, Liu Kuo-sung spent nearly a decade exploring and perfecting his technique of “Water-rubbing.” This dedication illustrates Liu’s “revolution against the brush,” and the notion that great painting can be created with or without the brush. Mountain Light blown into Wrinkles is a representative work from this inspiring period of experimentation and creativity.
Liu Kuo-sung, Mountain Light blown into Wrinkles, 1985 © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives

Spring of Old Banyan

Catalog Entry
The Scripture of a Missionary of Modern Ink Painting II
This painting is a representative work of Liu Kuo-sung’s “Ink-staining” technique. Liu began experimenting with technique in the 1980s; utilizing the seeping quality of ink, he rid the image of preconceived brushstrokes, in search of a more natural and spontaneous effect.
Liu Kuo-sung, Spring of Old Banyan, 1993 © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives