“Panorama of West Lake”
“Watching Snow at Huxin Pavilion”
“Appreciate Sunset on Kwun Yam Shan Mountain from Marshal Zen Garden”
US-BASED Taiwan writer/artist Liu Yong is no doubt a versatile polymath. He is one of the best-selling Chinese authors, an awarded poet, and a well-known TV host.
Born in Taipei in 1949, Liu is such a popular writer that it is claimed he boasts 300 million readers. But often forgotten is the fact that he was originally a painter.
Liu is a student of famous modern artist Huang Junbi (1898-1991) who was adept at landscape painting.
He studied art at universities and was the school artist of St John’s University (Jamaica, NY), having published several Chinese art guide books in Chinese and English and participated on many exhibitions in the US.
Through May 28 the “Retrospective Works of Liu Yong” exhibition is open at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou. Showcasing 120 works, it is Liu’s largest exhibition.
Part of the reason is that Lin’an, Hangzhou, is Liu’s ancestral home. “My grandfather was the Lin’an County’s magistrate,” he said.
For the same reason, last year the artist and his wife Bi Weiwei donated 31 paintings and calligraphy works from their personal collection of modern and contemporary masters to the museum. This time one more piece — by Liu — will be donated after the exhibition.
Hangzhou people welcome Liu with great passion — 2,000 free tickets to Liu’s two-hour speech were snapped up within six minutes.
People also swarmed to his exhibition. It showcases five types of Liu’s work: contemporary ink-wash, elaborate flower and bird drawings, landscape and architect art, imitations of ancient classics, and sketches drawn from nature.
Watching his wall-size abstract contemporary ink and wash paintings, visitors can easily tell Liu observes the world from a very high-angle.
In one painting he depicts a globe lit by the sun and the moon, and on the globe rivers flow among mountains.
“I draw young and old landforms inside,” said the painter.
On another painting, mountains and rivers are placed on a spiral scroll, lit by a warm yellow moon. At the top of the scroll are steep mountains and waterfalls. In the middle, water flows through gentle hills, and at the bottom there is no rock and the defluent appears zigzag but mild.
“It is a portrait of my life,” Liu said.
The artist likes the image of the moon very much. Almost each painting in this section features a moon.
“Those paintings of femininity which express life’s serenity,” commented Shu Jianhua, curator and director of Silicon Valley Asian Art Center.
It is obvious that Liu employs some Western painting techniques, yet the artist says he conveys Chinese artistic spirit through his works.
No wonder he is dedicated to imitating ancient Chinese masters’ landscape works. Visitors comment: “As if I can walk into the mountains,” and “it seems the cloud, smog, and water are moving.”
Similarly, at the section of elaborate flower and bird drawings, people are dazzled at how Liu depicts every petal and feather vividly, meticulously and exquisitely.
“I feel the birds are flying out of the paintings, and the flowers look better than the real ones,” said one visitor.
“His paintings give a sense of spirituality, as if they are etherealized,” curator Shu said. “Few elaborate painter own this talent.”
To know the process of Liu’s painting, please go to the corridor where guide albums instruct how a flower/tree is made from pencil sketch.
Date: Through May 28 (closed on Mondays)
Address: 128 Nanshan Rd