Liu Kuo-sung was born in Bangbu City, Anhui Province in China in 1923. He came to Taiwan with the School for National Revolution Army Descendants in 1949 and graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University in 1955. Liu had been inspired by Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky and Paul Klee before he was introduced to abstract impressionism. Today, he uses western painting tools and techniques to present traditional Chinese landscapes with an abstract impressionist style.
Liu developed a creative method of painting on modern Xuan (cotton) paper with ink and then removing the main fabrics of it in 1963. This results in a very special texture and “matière” in his works. Together with raw drawing lines resembling Chinese cursive scripts, varying layers of ink wash and painted colors, Liu established a modern style of his own in this otherwise traditional category. In fact, Liu’s style has been changed several times. The Ink Rubbings, Two-section Composition, Outer Space and Water Marbling and Ink Soaking series each represent a different style. But they still share certain characteristics: their delicate, sometimes crystal-clear ink and wash suggest mobility and change; their outreaching rubbings of objects are reminiscent of Chinese cursive scripts, which seem to be able to extend across time and space. The cursive writing-like ink lines and the complementary workings of blankness and fullness in a painting, in fact, are the two most prominent features in traditional Chinese painting. It is these two features that make Chinese painting so different from its western counterpart. In all, the ever-extending cursive lines and the active dynamics between the empty (“Xu)” and the filled (“Shi”) embody a world where life moves on and on.
Liu has come up with many different painting styles, but he never follows any of them rigidly. He believes that “painting should be like playing chest,” meaning that an artist should go with the random/natural flow of the creative process, rather than trying to manipulate it. This resembles the “automatism” theory of the west, which suggests that the abstract forms on paper should be able to develop themselves by chance. This is exactly what abstract impressionist painters would do—let the paintbrush be led by one’s sub-consciousness and develop a painting out of it. It can be seen that Liu is greatly inspired by abstract impressionism. He actively applies the automatic technique of “painting as if playing chest,” allowing his sub-consciousness to lead the painting process. In this way, he has produced many creative, vivid paintings that surprise all.
To create a landscape painting, Liu would paint on a special kind of modern Xuan (cotton) paper with ink before removing the main fabrics of it. This results in very special ink lines that resemble flowy Chinese cursive scripts or the lines on mountain rocks. When combined with ink wash, a special visual effect is achieved. It is with this “matière” that Liu established a unique ink painting style of his own. Mountains of Undworldly Thoughts was also created through the aforementioned method. This majestic landscape in layers of ink and wash looks refreshing.
Liu Kuo-sung is among the most dedicated painters promoting modern art in post-war Taiwan. His first effort was to establish the Salon de Mai. Although Liu was trained in art schools and was influenced by western art trends of the time, he was neither satisfied with following his predecessors nor imitating the western styles. During the modern painting movement, he took up the mission of modernizing traditional Chinese painting and advocating such Chinese painting. To pass down and transform tradition, he challenged it without fear, insisting that ink painting should be “revolutionized.” To bring traditional painting forward, he has since continued to develop new techniques. He is considered the most important revolutionist of ink painting. In a modern framework, he delivers oriental philosophy and Chinese aesthetics. This has enabled him to craft a new path for ink painting in the 20th century.
|English title：||Mountains of Undworldly Thoughts|
|Medium / Classification：||ink painting and calligraphy|
|Collection Unit：||Private collection|
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|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1931-1940|