Floating Mountain Peak

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

Floating Mountain Peak is a major work of Liu Kuo-sung’s “Water-rubbing” technique. “Water-rubbing” is an important component to Liu’s “revolution against the brush,” and a total rejection of the dominance of refined brushwork in traditional Chinese painting.

“Ink-rubbing” in general involves the transfer of ink onto paper by pressing the paper on a medium which has ink on or in it. Mediums that support the technique include cloth, stone, wood, and water. Of the various mediums, the reaction of ink in water creates the most elaborate visual effect. Like the formation and movement of clouds in the sky, the image created by “Water-rubbing” is moving and poetic.

As a collage, Floating Mountain Peak also features Liu’s specially crafted rice paper with heavy fibers, known to art historians as “Liu Kuo-sung Paper.” Cut and pasted onto the painting, the jagged edges of the heavy-fibre paper resemble towering mountain peaks, which stand in clear contrast with the flowing watery lines of “Water-rubbing.” The combination of the two techniques embraces the visual tensions between movement and repose, and solid and void, and ultimately materializes the spirit of this metaphysical landscape.

Liu Kuo-sung, Floating Mountain Peak, 1976, Ink and Color on Paper, 94.5 x 57.5 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