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

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

Floating Mountain Peak

Catalog Entry
The Scripture of a Missionary of Modern Ink Painting II
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.
Liu Kuo-sung, Floating Mountain Peak, 1976 © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives