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

Light Snow

Catalog Entry
The Scripture of a Missionary of Modern Ink Painting II
This painting reveals the influence of Taoism on Liu Kuo-sung’s art, particularly the philosophy that Yin and Yang is the source of all things. Yin and Yang are not to be understood as two opposing forces, but rather as two parts of the same whole, working in unison, creating all life in the universe.
Liu Kuo-sung, Light Snow, 1963 © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives

Pressing on the Brow

Catalog Entry
The Scripture of a Missionary of Modern Ink Painting II
Uncommon among Liu Kuo-sung’s oeuvre, the subject matter of this painting is exceptionally personal. Its inspiration comes from his wife Li Mo-hua’s eyebrows. Back when the couple first began dating, Liu was immediately drawn toward her eyebrows and the strong personality they conveyed.
Liu Kuo-sung, Pressing on the Brow, 1964 © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives