Liu Kang (b. 1 April 1911, Yongchun County, Fujian Province, China - d. 1 June 2004, Singapore), also known as Liu Kai, was an oil painter, a member of a group of pioneer local artists, and a key player in establishing a local style in the visual arts. As a renowned artist, Liu Kang not only produced a wide portfolio of works but also, through his various positions in art schools, influenced the next generation of artists and painters in Singapore.Having received his art education from the best of both hemispheres, Liu Kang translated these influences and incorporated local Southeast Asian flavours into his work to create the distinct Nanyang style. This particular style, attributed to Singapore's pioneer painters, was first seen in the works of Liu Kang and fellow painters Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee and Cheong Soo Pieng upon their return from a study-cum-painting trip in Bali in 1952. Some of his well-known paintings from this era include: Artist and Model (1954), Batik Workers (1954) and Balinese Girl in Red Sarong (undated). Liu Kang's reach, however, went beyond that of his peers as he continued to influence the next generation of artists through his teaching positions in the local art institutions - the Association of Chinese Artists of Singapore and the Singapore Art Society. Besides well-known artists, some of his students include famed personalities such as Singapore's first elected president, Ong Teng Cheong.Despite eye problems and a failed cataract transplant in 1986, Liu Kang continued to paint and exhibit his works. His most significant exhibition prior to his death was that held in China in November 2000, after having postponed it for more than a decade due to the Tiananmen incident in 1989. Liu Kang's works have been exhibited in several other countries including France, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the USA.
Liu Kang ( Singapore ) - Life by the River ,1975 ,oil on canvas
Life by the River, a 1975 work, shows a village scene with busy human activity. Liu Kang is a master of composition. Depth in this painting is achieved more by the arrangement of shapes than by perspective, suggesting a pictorial sensitivity more in tune with the Chinese landscape tradition. The yellow walkway on the left and the river on the right not only echo each other, but also lead the viewer's attention to the houses in the distance.