Mountain Light Blown Into Wrinkles

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

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.

With the initial composition created by “Water-rubbing,” the image is further treated with ink and wash, adding the artist’s personal touch to the natural effects of ink in water. In the mid-ground, strands of running ink converge upwards, resembling the formation of a mountain. Toward the foreground, the flow of ink slows into a sprawl, like highland water reaching the recess of a valley. The dense black ink of the background sets a strong chiaroscuro effect against the foreground and stabilizes the composition. Despite the painting’s small size, the stunning portrayal of light and the momentum of the lines create a very moving picture.

Liu Kuo-sung with Mountain Light Blown into Wrinkles.
Photo: Courtesy of Liu Kuo-sung © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives
Liu Kuo-sung, Mountain Light Blown into Wrinkles, 1985, Ink on Paper, 40 x 26.5 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

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