Pressing on the Brow

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

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.

The composition of Pressing on the Brow and the eyebrows of the artist’s wife are one and the same; full of spirit and character. The painting’s calligraphic brushstrokes are expressive of Liu’s powerful wielding of the brush, in which a few well-articulated strokes are enough to form the dynamic and flowing composition. In terms of color, the blue pigment fused within black ink adds a sense of substance to the brushstrokes, while the choice of greenish-yellow in the background sets the abstract composition into an intriguing dimension. Through the abstract means of Modernism, Liu Kuo-sung brilliantly expresses a personal sentiment, making this painting a masterpiece of Modern Ink Painting.

Liu Kuo-sung, Pressing on the Brow, 1964, Ink and color on paper, 91.5 x 59.5 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

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 with Mountain Light Blown into Wrinkles. Photo: Courtesy of Liu Kuo-sung © The Liu Kuo-sung Archives