(LIU GUOSONG, Chinese, B. 1932)
Symphony of Spring
signed and dated in Chinese (lower right)
mixed media on paper, triptych
overall: 183 x 276 cm. (72 1/8 x 108 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1993
two seals of the artist
Chan Liu Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
Acquired from the above by the present owner
National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gallery, Liu Kuo-Sung: The Universe and My Heart, Taipei, Taiwan, 1999 (illustrated, p. 107).
Taipei, Taiwan, National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gallery, National Dr. Sun Yet-Sen Memorial Hall, Liu Kuo-Sung: The Universe and My Heart, 1999. Taoyuan, Taiwan, Chan Liu Art Museum, A Universe of His Own, 2004.

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Lot Essay

Liu Kuo Song, the modern ink painter, has devoted his life to researching and realizing the goal of "modernizing Chinese painting." As a part of the Fifth Moon Group established in 1956, he attempted to apply Western abstraction in a way that would harmonize with the nature of Chinese ink painting, yet would also have a richly modern character. The results helped redefine ink painting for the Chinese art world and he has come to be known as "the father of modern ink painting." The phases of Liu's career, aside from early works he produced during his student years, can be roughly categorized to roughly five main themes, based on his creative forms and techniques: his abstract paintings, based on very free kuang cao calligraphy; his Space Series; his shui tuo, or "water rubbing" series; his zi mo, or "steeped ink" series; and his Tibetan Suite Series. Liu's Symphony of Spring (Lot 168) from 1993, is an important work that shows mastery in various forms as he combines all the techniques from his different phases in his artistic career.

Liu Kuo Song produced his Symphony of Spring triptych using an ingenious combination of his own special techniques: chou jin texturing, water rubbing (shui tuo), and steeped ink (zi mo). Symphony of Spring's unique presentation invites viewers to mentally roam among the engaging harmonies of its ink tones and its unlimited imaginative spaces. Rugged, firm lines reminiscent of kuang cao calligraphy set out a line of mountain ranges in the center of the work; spreading out from its edges are overlapping regions of inky black, azure blue, and malachite green. Liu deliberately uses an open compositional space, letting the mountains sweep and unfold from upper right to lower left; finally, in the upper reaches of the painting, masses of flowing air seem to form and mix to produce infinite varieties of change. The artist makes use of empty space in the lower part of the work, echoing the traditional aesthetics of Chinese ink-wash painting, in which "form and emptiness give rise to each other." This painting embodies a kind of broad-minded, philosophical Eastern view, as its rising and falling peaks wind their way among the mists, almost seeming to float on the clouds. In Symphony of Spring, Liu produces a marvelous and varied work of rolling clouds and flowing waters by utilizing both heavy and light applications of ink with the greatest possible ease and facility. Fine sprays of mist and spring hues seem to provide a breath of cooling, fresh air for the viewer. Springtime light and color spreads across a vast landscape as ink and color blend in this lively and exuberant "symphony."

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