Jian Liu

Jian Liu

Jian Liu was born in Shanghai in 1961, and at eighteen was one of the few students accepted to attend the Beijing People’s Army Art College. At twenty-four, he was made life-time resident of the Traditional Chinese Painting Academy, Shanghai, and began teaching thereafter. There he met and worked with many prolific painters, and learned first-hand both Northern and Southern styles of traditional Chinese art. A photograph from the artist’s study shows Liu as a young man addressing a group of elderly painters, including Wu Guanzhong and Ye Qianyu. After several major shows across France, Germany, and Italy, the artist eventually settled in Canada in 1990. Liu’s early works incorporated broad swathes of colour and texture, and were undoubtedly influenced by Western abstract artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Joseph Beuys. In contrast to his early oil and acrylic works, Liu’s ink works embrace traditional painting techniques especially in his emphasis of lines and the freedom of his brushstrokes. The artist’s works are embodiments of his experiences and education, like dreamscapes of what ink paintings could be, with the term “ink” loosely refined by his technical execution. He blends together traditional and abstract styles, in different tones of black, with hints of colour here and there.