Liu Jian

1961 Shanghai, China

Introduction

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].”


BIOGRAPHY

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    Included in the gallery monograph Alisan Fine Arts 35 Years, Hong Kong

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2016             
2005             
  • The Return, New Acrylic Paintings, Ch’i Contemporary Fine Art, New York, USA
2002
  • Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1999
  • Liu Jian: Homecoming, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
1998
  • New Beginning, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Beginnings, Finer Side Galleries, Washington DC, USA
  • New Faber Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1997
  • 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 
1996
  • Finer Side Galleries, Maryland, USA
1995
  • Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Societa Belle Arti, Verona, Italy
1994
  • Alisan Fine Arts, Central Plaza, Hong Kong 
1993
  • Painting & Calligraphy, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1992
  • Explorations: Recent Works by Liu Jian, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Chinese Gallery of Art, New York, USA
1991
  • Art Gallery of Bancroft, Ontario, Canada
  • Rivoli Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1990
  • Queen's Quay Terminal, Toronto, Canada
1989
  • New Geneeration: Recent paintings by Liu Jian, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
1988
  • Chinese Paintings Academy of Shanghai, Shanghai, China
1987
  • Warwick Arts Trust, London, England

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2019        
2018
2015
  • 5 Mainland Chinese and Diaspora Artists Group Exhibition, Lelegy Art Space, Beijing, China

2007
  • 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 
2006
2004
  • 4th Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
2003
  • 3rd Shenzhen International Ink Biennal, Shenzhen, China
2002
  • 2nd Shenzhen International Ink Biennal, Shenzhen, China
1998
  • 1st Shenzhen International Ink Biennal, Shenzhen, China
1997
  • Performance Painting, Music Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1996
  • Galleria d'Arte Piazza Erbe, Verona, Italy
  • International Asian Art Fair, Alisan Fine Arts, New York, USA
  • Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China 
1995
  • Chinese New Year Show, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1994
  • Festival Dei due Mondi, Basilica Santa Eufemia, Spoleto, Italy 
1992
  • Galerie Rochon, Toronto, Canada
1991
  • Drawings 1991, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • Great Wall Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Japan Arts Gallery, Tokyo
  • New Faber Gallery, Toronto, Canada 
1990
  • Chinese Modern Paintings: Landscape, Figure, Flower & Birds, organised by Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong
1989
  • 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
1988
  • National Art Show, Beijing, China
  • One Hundred Contemporary Calligraphers, Hong Kong
  • Five-man show, Art East Art West Gallery, Hamburg, Germany 
  • Newhouse Centre for Contemporary Art, Harbour Cultural Centre, Staten Island, New York, USA
1987
  • 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
1985
  • 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

SELECTED AWARDS
1985    First Runner-up in National Calligraphy Competition in China
1988    “The Sea is Behind” - Grand prize in the national competition, Young Artist of China
1991    Sunday Arts Entertainment, CBC, Canada
1993    Grant from French Consulate, solo exhibition, and lecture at The Pompidou Centre, Paris, France     
1995    B Grant from the Canada Arts Council, Canada                            

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS
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