Liu Jian

1961 Shanghai, China


Liu Jian 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 Jian 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 on 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.


Alisan Fine Arts first showed his works in 1987 as part of the landmark exhibition A State of Transition: Contemporary Paintings from Shanghai. Since then Alisan Fine Arts has held four solo exhibitions for the artist. Notably, the gallery’s exhibition for Liu in 1994 was held at the Central Plaza in support of the Hong Kong Community Chest and was opened by its President Mrs. Lavender Patten, the wife of Chris Patten, the then governor of Hong Kong. Over the years he has had numerous solo exhibitions in Europe, North America, and Hong Kong. In 2016 we had a joint exhibition for him and Zhang Yu, raising a question "Is it Ink Art" which is the most debated subject in recent years. His works have been collected by the Hong Kong Museum of Art; American Club, Hong Kong;  the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, Canada; Bank of China, Hong Kong; Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan; Prince Haik, Austria; Exxon Energy Ltd., Hong Kong.


In a recent conversation with Liu he said “while working with Mrs. King and Alisan Fine Arts over the last thirty years, what I have felt most is a feeling of sincerity and respect. That is something I find lacking in collaborating with Mainland Chinese galleries. All those years as a young artist, I was fortunate enough to be cared for and loved in the same manner as one experiences from one’s elders [and family].”


1961    Born in Shanghai, China
1979-83 Studied and graduated at the Art Academy of the Chinese Liberation Army, China
1985-89    Lecturer at the Chinese Paintings Academy of Shanghai, China
1988-89    Director of Shanghai Youth Artist Association
1989    Moved to Toronto, Canada where he currently resides
2016    Published in the gallery monograph Alisan Fine Arts 35 Years, Hong Kong


  • The Return, New Acrylic Paintings, Ch’i Contemporary Fine Art, New York, USA
  • Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Liu Jian: Homecoming, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • New Beginning, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Beginnings, Finer Side Galleries, Washington DC, USA
  • New Faber Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Europe in My Mind, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Walsh Gallery, Chicago, USA
  • From China to America: The Art of a New Generation, DP Fong Galleries, San Jose, California, USA 
  • Finer Side Galleries, Maryland, USA
  • Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Societa Belle Arti, Verona, Italy
  • Alisan Fine Arts, Central Plaza, Hong Kong 
  • Painting & Calligraphy, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Explorations: Recent Works by Liu Jian, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Chinese Gallery of Art, New York, USA
  • Art Gallery of Bancroft, Ontario, Canada
  • Rivoli Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Queen's Quay Terminal, Toronto, Canada
  • New Generation: Recent paintings by Liu Jian, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Chinese Paintings Academy of Shanghai, Shanghai, China
  • Warwick Arts Trust, London, England

  • 5 Mainland Chinese and Diaspora Artists Group Exhibition, Lelegy Art Space, Beijing, China

  • A Contemporary Art Scene in Shanghai & Open Artists Workshops, 969 Weihai Road, Shanghai, China
  • A Contemporary Art scene in Shanghai, Doland Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China
  • Another Look - Contemporary Art from Shanghai, Washington DC, USA
  • Artcore Gallery/Fabrice, Toronto, Canada
  • Fran Willis Gallery, Victoria, Canada
  • Blooming Art, Nanaimo, Canada 
  • 4th Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
  • 3rd Shenzhen International Ink Biennal, Shenzhen, China
  • 2nd Shenzhen International Ink Biennal, Shenzhen, China
  • 1st Shenzhen International Ink Biennal, Shenzhen, China
  • Performance Painting, Music Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Galleria d'Arte Piazza Erbe, Verona, Italy
  • International Asian Art Fair, Alisan Fine Arts, New York, USA
  • Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China 
  • Chinese New Year Show, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Festival Dei due Mondi, Basilica Santa Eufemia, Spoleto, Italy 
  • Galerie Rochon, Toronto, Canada
  • Drawings 1991, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • Great Wall Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Japan Arts Gallery, Tokyo
  • New Faber Gallery, Toronto, Canada 
  • Chinese Modern Paintings: Landscape, Figure, Flower & Birds, organised by Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong
  • Nielsen Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Drawings from Distant Shows, City College of New York, USA 
  • National Art Show, Beijing, China
  • One Hundred Contemporary Calligraphers, Hong Kong
  • Five-man show, Art East Art West Gallery, Hamburg, Germany 
  • New Centre for Contemporary Art, Harbour Cultural Centre, Staten Island, New York, USA
  • International Arts Festival, Shanghai Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, China 
  • Festival of Chinese Culture, Denver, Colorado, USA
  • A State of Transition-Contemporary Painting from Shanghai, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong
  • Two-man show, Gallery of Shanghai Chinese Paintings Academy, Shanghai, China
  • Eight-man show, Chinese Painting Research Institute, Beijing, China 
  • Shanghai Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, China
  • Contemporary Painters of Shanghai, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

1985    First Runner-up, National Calligraphy Competition, China
1988    Grand prize, National Competition of Young Artists, China
1991    Interviewed by "Sunday Arts Entertainment", CBC, Canada
1993    B Grant from Ontario Arts Council, Canada     
1995    B Grant from the Canada Arts Council, Canada                            


Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, Canada
Sun Life Corp., Toronto, Canada
Ms. Judith Smith, New York, USA
Ms. Julie Curtis, New York, USA
Prince Haik, Austria
Pucci Collection, Italy
Grand Hyatt, Taipei, Taiwan
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
American Club, Hong Kong
Bank of China, Hong Kong
BHF Bank, Hong Kong
UBS Bank, Hong Kong
Brown Brothers Harriman, Hong Kong
Exxon Energy Ltd, Hong Kong
Tao Ho Design, Hong Kong