Liu Kang刘抗

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Artist Profile
Liu Kang ,born 1911, Yongchun County, Fujian Province, China - died 2004, Singapore, renowned oil painter, a member of a group of pioneer local artist, and a key player in establishing a local style in the visual arts. Liu Kang not only produced a wide portfolio of works but also, through his various positions in art schools, influenced the next generation of artists and painters in Singapore.
 
Early life
Born in the year the Qing Dynasty fell in China, Liu Kang spent his early years in Malaya, where his father worked as a rubber merchant. A mispronunciation by his principal at Muar Primary School led to his name being changed from Liu Kai to Liu Kang. He continued his secondary school education in China at Tsinan University Middle School in 1926. During the school holidays, he took art classes at the Shanghai College of Fine Arts, later renamed Xinhua Arts Academy. Residing with his good friend, Chen Jen Hao, he came to know and fell in love with Jen Hao's sister, Chen Jen Pen. Although only in her early teens, Jen Pen's love remained and she later become Liu's wife.
 
Shanghai was strongly influenced by Western arts during the 1920s and 1930s, the time Liu Kang was studying art there. Liu Kang continued his art education in Paris at the Academie de Grande Chaumiere from 1929 to 1933, where he was drawn to post-impressionists such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Gaugin and Vincent Van Gogh, masters whose works continue to influence his own.
 
WWII
During the war years, he and his family fled back to Muar, leaving behind more than 200 paintings, almost all of which have been looted and destroyed. Liu Kang witnessed many atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers on the local people. In 1946, after the war had ended, he published sketches of Japanese brutality on Asians in a multi-volumed work entitled Chop Suey. The series was published in both English and Chinese, and in 1991 was translated into Japanese by Professor Nakahara Michiko. Only limited copies of the original Chop Suey can be found as a complete set.
 
Nanyang style
Having received his art education from the best of both hemispheres, Liu Kang translated these influences and incorporated local Southeast Asian flavours to his work to create the distinct Nanyang style. This particular style, attributed to Singapore's pioneer painters, was first seen in the works of Liu Kang and fellow painters Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee and Cheong Soo Pieng upon their return from a study-cum-painting trip in Bali in 1952. Some of his well-known paintings from this era include: Artist and Model (1954), Batik Workers (1954) and Balinese Girl in Red Sarong (undated). Liu Kang's reach however went beyond that of his peers as he continued to influence the next generation of artists through his teaching positions in the local art institutions - the Association of Chinese Artists of Singapore, the Singapore Art Society and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art (NAFA). Besides well-known artists, some of his students include famed personalities such as Singapore's first elected president, Ong Teng Cheong.
 
Despite eye problems and a failed cataract transplant in 1986, Liu Kang continued to paint and exhibit his works. His most significant recent exhibition is that held in China in November 2000, after having postponed it for more than a decade due to the Tiananmen incident in 1989. Liu Kang's work has been exhibited in several other countries including France, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the USA.
 
 
Artwork
Nude  ink on paper 1998
Nude ink on paper 1998