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Combination of Eastern Spirit and Western Style

White hair combed backward, a pair of bright piercing eyes behind glasses, meticulously arranged red tie.

Liu Kang, sitting gently and calmly on a soft sofa, shows a rare energy, possessed by few nonagenarians.

As a founder of Singaporean modern painting art, Liu set up the Nanyang School, which still prevails in southeast Asian countries.

Between November 7 and 26, a total of 50 oil paintings by Liu Kang are being displayed at the China Art Gallery for Chinese audiences. This is the first time his paintings are shown in his homeland China.

"I began my education in China and the Chinese tradition greatly influenced me," Liu said at an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"I'd like to present the painting exhibition to my homeland as a treasured gift," Liu said.

Liu, born in 1911 in Fujian Province, spent his childhood in Malaya, learnt painting skills in Shanghai and Paris. He also worked as a painting teacher in the 1930s in Shanghai.

After moving to Singapore in 1942, Liu reached his artistic pinnacle in the 1950s and created his own Nanyang School.

"Art is closely linked with philosophy, and the difference between Eastern and Western philosophies results in a difference between the two arts," Liu said.

While Western art focuses on actual visions, Eastern art stresses the power of spirit, he said.

In short, Liu tries to use traditional Chinese brush pens and Western painting oil to depict landscapes and portraits.

Meanwhile, he always pursues a wise combination of the Chinese artistic spirit and Western skills.

Lim Siang Hiong, an influential art critic in Singapore, said that Liu's paintings provide full entertainment to viewers, which is similar to the enjoyment of basking in warm sunshine at the beach.

Liu still thanks his late teacher Liu Hai-su and good friend Fu Lei. He said that Liu Hai-su, one of the greatest Chinese painters, greatly influenced him in his early years.

During his days in Paris, Liu shared happy times with Fu in concert halls listening to Beethoven's symphony pieces.

"A person's art is nearly related to his daily life, and the combination of life experience helps him to produce unique artistic works," Liu said.

The exhibition will also be shown at the Liu Hai-su Art Museum in Shanghai between January 7 and 20, 2001.

(People's Daily 11/15/2000)

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