Liu Jian: Modern Ink

PAGODA RED is pleased to announce Dreamscape a solo exhibition of new contemporary ink paintings by Liu Jian. Born in Shanghai in 1961 and now based in Toronto, Liu Jian has exhibited globally and is highly regarded for his contemporary compositions using traditional Chinese media. Following recent shows in Hong Kong and mainland China, this is his first Chicago exhibition in a decade.


“Returning to Chinese traditions & tastes,” the artist says, “since the 1985 China New Wave movement, the most popular topics in China’s art world have been Western contemporary art this or that… I believe that after 30 years of effort, now is the time to think hard about what is the contemporary art of the Chinese people, an art that must grow from China’s culture and traditions. I have been painting this series for 20 years now. In the past, I tried to use Chinese ink to make Western paintings; today, with this group of works, I have begun to use Chinese ink to make Chinese contemporary paintings!”


unknown-1By expressing “the story of himself” through his masterful work, Liu Jian works to build a feeling of kinship and understanding with his audience. The abstract Dreamscape series is the extraction of his essence, yet still conveys the depth of control that only a seasoned traditional calligrapher practices. The somber grey and black tones in the works reflect a bygone era yet speak to a modern aesthetic. Looking into their shadows, you see blossoms, the cosmos, the depths of imagination and the breath of the universe.

As a boy, Liu Jian was sent with his parents to the re-education camps of Maoist China, and despite poverty, found money for ink and paper. As a boy, he began traditional calligraphy lessons that changed his life and continue to influence his work today. He has been painting for decades and considers his work heavily influenced by the old Chinese masters.

Dreamscape opens 23 September 2016 from 6-8pm at PAGODA RED (400 N Morgan, Chicago)

Preview paintings by Liu Jian

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