By peace | November 28, 2011
Liu Kang (Chinese: 刘抗; pinyin: Liú Kàng) (1 April 1911 -1 June 2004 ; aged 93) was a Singaporean artist famous for his Balinese-themed figurative paintings. He was a founding member of the Singapore Art Society, and was credited with developing the Nanyang style.
He was born in Fujian Province and he spent his early years in Malaysia, studied art in Shanghai and Paris, and taught art in Shanghai during the 1930s. Under the influence of Chinese artist and art teacher Liu Haisu (1896–1994), Liu admired, and often appropriated the styles of French-based modernist painters such as Cézanne, van Gogh and Matisse. Liu Kang came to Singapore in 1942 and had been credited with numerous contributions to the local arts scene. In 1952, Liu Kang, Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi and Cheong Soo Pieng went on their historic field trip to Bali in search of a visual expression that was Southeast Asian. Liu drew much inspiration from this trip which inspired some of his latter works. In 1970, Liu was awarded the Public Service Star by the Singapore Government. He was honoured by the same agency in 1996 with the Meritorious Service Medal. His works, spanning from 1935 to 1997, are a testament of his contributions to Singapore art.
In May 2003, the then 94-year-old artist gave the majority of his paintings and sketches, amounting to 1,000 over pieces, to the Singapore Art Museum. He also unveiled a painting of three Balinese women, each carrying a basket of offerings, which was symbolic of his personal offering to the museum and to the country. The painting was aptly titled Offerings.
To commemorate the 100th year of Liu Kang’s birth, the National Art Gallery, Singapore, together with the Global Chinese Arts & Culture Society and Lianhe Zaobao held a forum titled “Liu Kang: Tropical Vanguard” on Saturday, 2 April 2011. The forum brought together a panel of established artists and scholars to discuss Liu Kang’s significant influence and contributions to Singapore’s art history, the local and international perspectives of this pioneering artist, as well as Liu Kang’s many facets as a leader and visionary of the Singapore art community.
Liu Kang’s Travels/art exhibition at Singapore Art Museum, showing Artefacts and drawings of his travel trips around southeast asia.
In 1952 Liu Kang, together with fellow artists Chen Wen His, Chen Chong Swee and Cheong Soo Pieng, made a painting trip to Indonesia and Bali. The exotic life, culture and scenic landscape of the island provided the artists with rich visual material and inspiration. This 1952 Bali trip has become one of the pivotal events of Singapore art history. Travelling to Bali to find inspirations was something that many younger Singapore artists of the period aspired towards. Liu Kang’s principle that an artist must physically experience his subject matter in order to paint underpinned his extensive travels throughout his life. He was an energetic traveller even in his old age.
1970 : the Public Service Star, Singapore
1985 : Singapore Art Society Service Award and Society of Chinese Artists Service Award
1993 : the ASEAN Creative Award, Brunei.
1996 : the Meritorious Service Medal, Singapore for “laying a firm foundation and developing a distinctive art movement in Singapore”
1946 – 1958 : President of the Society of Chinese Artists, Singapore.
1968 – 1979 : President of the Singapore Art Society
Chairman, National Day Art Exhibition Working Committee
Chairman, the Advisory Committee on Visual Arts