The present lot entitled Beach Scene is a striking work of Liu’s that exemplifies the Nanyang flair he brought to his painting. It presents Liu’s distinctly modern, Western-influenced interpretation of a quintessential Southeast Asian scene. The painting depicts a beach off a tropical coast, where two figures lounge on the sand at complete ease. Nearby, a boat rests on the shore, overlooking a vast expanse of intensely-hued blue sea that seamlessly blends into the horizon. The Nanyang setting comes alive under Liu’s skilled brush, transporting the viewer — the heat of the equatorial sun and the glimmer of light dancing off the ocean are palpable from just looking at the painting alone.
Liu’s spontaneous, expressive application of paint marks this piece as an exceptional example of his distinct artistic vernacular, which he applied to painting local subjects in the Southeast Asian region. The influence of Van Gogh and the other Post-Impressionists on Liu’s style is also reflected in the rhythmic, broadly textured brushstrokes Liu uses throughout the painting. His use of colour is intense and vivid--the stunning contrast between the reds, browns and beiges of the land against the unadulterated stretch of blue that forms the sea and the sky reinforces the radiance of the tropical landscape in the painting.
Liu Kang was a veritable giant in Singapore’s modern art history, and his particular aesthetic sensibility bridges between the artistic vocabularies of the West and his own experiences living in Singapore. As an artist whose works were exhibited all over the world from Paris to Beijing, Liu had a seminal role in further developing the budding Nanyang tradition to maturity. Beach Scene represents the artistry that underpins his oeuvre and is an exquisite example of his Nanyang works.
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