Father of modern ink-painting talks about his creative concept

Liu addressing the audience during the talk at Wisma Kebudayaan Soka Gakkai Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

ART aficionados recently had a memorable session with Professor Liu Kuo-Sung who talked about “My Creative Concept and The Renaissance of Ink Painting”.

Held at Wisma Kebudayaan Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) in Kuala Lumpur, Liu, who is fondly known as father of modern ink-painting, discussed his process of art creations after some 70 years in art scene. He also shared his thoughts on being an advocate for the modernisation of Chinese painting with the audience.

“I began studying traditional Chinese painting in Wuchang at the age of 14.

“During that time, my teacher told me that inspiration for traditional Chinese painting came from your daily life and that impacted me a lot.

“I then decided to pursue this further,” he said.

Liu Kuo-sung was born in Anhui, China, though his ancestry can be traced back to Qingzhou, Shandong.

He settled in Taiwan in 1949 and at age 20, he switched to the study of Western painting.

After graduating from the National Taiwan Normal Univer-sity in 1956, he founded the Fifth Moon Group which launched the contemporary art movement in Taiwan and advocated full westernisation of art.

“Five years later, I sensed that following and imitating exclusively Western contemporary art trends and styles was wrong.

“I felt a powerful calling to promote and develop traditional culture, and began promoting the modernisation of Chinese painting,” he said.

Liu spent more than half a century exploring and creating innovations in the world of modern ink painting.

In 1963, he created “Liu Kuo-sung paper” by incorporating rough tree-bark fibres in paper, and went on to establish the iconic fibre-plucking and ink-rubbing techniques.

His unique painting style has shaken the international art scene.

In 1969, he painted the “Space Series” after being influenced by pictures of the earth taken from the moon by the American Apollo 7 spacecraft, elevating the landscape of ink painting to a new height.

Liu said the idea of “the modernisation of Chinese ink painting” is to have a selective understanding and acceptance of the characteristics of Western modern civilisation, and from there, create the style of a new era in Chinese culture.

He also believes that classrooms should not be seen as a painting-copying factory, but a laboratory where experimental exercise should take place.

Since 1965, Liu has held nearly 100 solo exhibitions and his works collected by more than 70 museums, including the Palace Museum, Beijing and the British Museum.

He has also received the prestigious arts awards on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait – the National Award for Arts in Taiwan (2008), the Award for Lifetime Achievement in China (2011) and the 36th National Cultural Award in Taiwan (2017).

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