Purple Sun

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

Liu Kuo-sung once said “although my composition is essentially a circle and an arc, the colors, technique, and texture are greatly different.” Purple Sun is a prime example of a painting from the Space Series, composed of an upper circle and lower arc, in which the colors, technique, and texture are remarkable and visually stunning.

Firstly, the sun occupies nearly half of the image and is positioned in the exact center. The composition is extremely bold, as is the use of colors; the bright neon red seemingly floats on top of the image, in stark contrast with the lower green arc representing the Earth’s surface. Swept horizontally across the Earth’s surface, are powerful calligraphic brushstrokes, which add a new dynamic between the sun and the Earth. Also, the background’s fade from blue to yellow brings a sense of harmony to the image.

The composition is modern, and the technique is a fusion of East and West. The bold use of colors, as well as the organic calligraphic lines, counteracts the seemingly simple composition and the predominance of geometric shapes. Although Liu Kuo-sung advocates “revolution against the brush,” he remains profoundly skilled in traditional brushwork; his command of the Chinese brush explores the elements of ink and wash in a spatial background.

Liu Kuo-sung, Purple Sun, 1970, Mixed-Media on Paper, 71.5 x 61 cm © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives

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