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Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
LIU DAN (B. 1953)
THE SELLER IS DONATING THE PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THIS WORK TO THE FREER SACKLER, THE SMITHSONIAN’S MUSEUMS OF ASIAN ART, FOR CHINA-THEMED EXHIBITIONS.
LIU DAN (B. 1953)

Scholar’s Rock - Grotto Heaven

Details
LIU DAN (B. 1953)
Scholars Rock - Grotto Heaven
Scroll, mounted and framed
Ink on paper
53 x 136 cm. (20 7/8 x 53 ½ in.)
Executed in 2016

Scholar’s rocks for Liu Dan are objects of mystery and uncertainty. Although it appears that Liu portrays a faithful representation of his subject matter, the scrupulous details he depicts are deceiving to the observer. The organic and strange features of a small piece of rock provide sources of imagination for the artist to journey through the world from a microscopic viewpoint, enabling him to create magnified and intricate compositions that echo grand landscape paintings where one can wander from within.

Through Liu Dan's meticulous, precise painting one can observe a great paradox in the liberating power of self-discipline. Liu uses his mastery of traditional method and technique to free his paintings from the aesthetic constraints normally associated with Chinese ink paintings. He does this while remaining true to the tradition, with results that are spectacularly novel and contemporary. Liu Dan is keen to emphasise that his attainment of masterly skill through self-discipline is what provides him with the freedom to paint according to his heart and mind. In Grotto Heaven, his freedom is used to scrupulously render minute and almost photographic details of a scholar’s rock.

With an ultimate fascination in the structural properties of things around him, Liu Dan actively removes his subjects from their original context. By decontextualising his subject matter, he abandons the narrative and distils his paintings to become a pure visual experience. Liu’s firm belief to not “tell a story” allows viewers to pay attention only to what appears in front of their eyes, that is, the aesthetic harmony born out of Liu Dan’s mind, body, and paint brush.

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