By merging traditional Chinese art with modern approaches of the West, Chinese painter Liu Kuo-sung has developed a distinctive style of art.
Liu, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and founder of Fifth Moon Group, a school of painters learning to his technique, has his paintings on exhibition at Trisolini Gallery.
Blending modern abstraction and traditional Chinese technique, Liu has rendered a powerful style with a particular reverence for nature and spiritual transcendence stemming from Buddhist and Taoist philosophies.
Liu said that with the Fifth Moon Group, “What we attempt to do is bring together the best of the two cultures. Our historical mission is to create a universal tradition.”
After changing from ink on canvas to ink on paper, Liu convinced the owners of a paper mill in China to produce for him a special type of paper with peel-off layers that create an uneven surface. Colors are dropped into the depressed or raised areas.
“I was stimulated by Western painters, from the Impressionists to the abstract artists,” he said. After studying Western art for seven years, Liu formed the Fifth Moon Group, which has emerged as a major innovative force in Chinese art.
“There are three schools of art in Taiwan,” Liu said, “one follows the traditional Chinese style, one follows the modern Western style, and the third is the Fifth Moon school.”
After the communist coup in China, Liu fled to Taiwan where he studied art at Taiwan Normal University in Taipei. His Athens tour has reunited him with a OU friend, Hwai-Wei Lee, director of Alden Library, after 20 years.
Although deeply influenced by Western technique, Liu has retained many of the basic Chinese traditions, emphasizing man’s spiritual unity with his surroundings.
“Landscape is the major subject matter in Chinese painting,” Liu said. He was inspired by a series of mountain hikes, evident in a number of his paintings. The special paper he uses adds a very effective touch, creating a rough, realistic image conducive to such portrayals of nature.
Liu was also influenced by the photographs of the moon taken by the Apollo astronauts as they orbited the moon. He refers to this as his “space period.” His work of that period is characterized by smooth circles, brimming with orange and yellow light, contrasted by rough brush strokes beneath. The circles convey a tranquility, inspired by Buddhist influence, while the chaotic strokes below illustrate the modern influence.
Liu’s paintings will be on exhibit at the Trisolini Gallery through Saturday, Now. 15.