Liu Kuo-Sung: Rearward Glance – From the 1960s to the Present
In celebration of Galerie du Monde’s 40th anniversary in 2014, and the gallery’s continuing emphasis in presenting outstanding works of art by contemporary ink painting artists, we take great pleasure in proposing this exceptional exhibition of paintings by the eminent artist Liu Kuo-Sung , curated by Zhu Hongzi, who also curated his retrospective exhibition at NAMOC in 2011. This time is taking place at Art Beasl Hong Kong 2014, Booth 3D15, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The “Rearward Glance” can be a gaze or a glimpse triggered by an instant impulse. What you see, in the exhibition, are works by an 82-year-old daring reformer and a thinking artist who commands our spontaneous respect. This exhibition will be comprised of significant works from the 1960s to the current decade.
Many of Liu’s works challenge people’s experience of art appreciation, for he has given up pursuing “the charm of brushwork” in traditional Chinese painting and does not strive for the delicacy of modeling or straightforward descriptiveness in Western painting.
Liu Kuo-Sung has set an example of reforming Zhongfeng (the use of the middle part of the brush tip) and also the brush itself. His decades of practice have been accompanied by theoretical reflections. It’s fair to say that it is him and his successors who have opened up the vibrant area of “Modern ink painting”, from which have sprung vitality and possibilities for the progress of the genre.
The curator, Zhu Hongzi, stated about Liu Kuo-Sung: “Some quasi-descriptive traces are visible in his works of the 1960s, for which he was accepted by the international art community, and the abstract expressionist works inspired by the ‘wild cursive style’ in Chinese calligraphy. However, viewers of the ‘outer space’ series of the 1970s can only marvel at the artist’s uncanny workmanship. The technical secret to Liu’s artistic expression lies in ‘production’, which embodies the high rationality of an artist; uncontrolled randomness is retained in such rationality by complex and varied means which are inconceivable yet suited to and united with the artistic expression. The circles and crescents that appear frequently in the ‘outer space’ series are apparently some concepts adapted from hard-edge art to edge art to express his rebellion and challenge against the nature of traditional painting. What’s special about it is that, through adaptation to the convention of painting, he hides such rebellion and challenge in almost undiscoverable corners in a cool and uninhibited style, which is blended with the rational process of production that combines control and randomness to form a ‘kernel’ with a special appeal that has run through all the stages of his career. In comparison, there are more tender sentiments in the recent Jiuzhaigou series, which includes The Heavenly Yellow River. These works frequently reveal his amiability, which is a simple beauty arrived at after all the vicissitudes, a reflection of his life in his twilight years.”
Liu Kuo-Sung owes his artistic achievements to innovation, which he thinks is the earliest legacy of Chinese painting. Breaking with obstacles set by the dominance of literati painting for over a thousand years, he has created a new realm for Chinese ink painting, where the modern spirit is expressed in modern time and space. His artistic practice is an important result of the reform of Chinese painting in the 20th century forming a cultural landscape of the modern ink painting movement.