I proposed the concept of ‘painting as chess’ in order to renew my creative ideas. Painting should be like playing a game of chess, re-strategizing with every move made, responding to each opportunity that arises. The result should not be known before one begins to paint – paintings created that way are sure to be rigid and lacking fluidity, never mind vitality.
The Tao (Path) of Ink
A master in contemporary ink, Liu Kuo-Sung is one of the most outstanding advocates of the continuation and modernisation of the traditional Chinese ink painting heritage. In the late 1950s, he established the Fifth Moon Group to explore the exchanges between the artistic vocabularies of traditional Chinese painting and Western fine art, infusing into Asian ink a new life force and spirit. Path Finding in Autumn was created when Liu was on the cusp of international acclaim and constitutes a prime example of his “broad brushstroke" landscapes on earth created using gun barrel cleaning brushes. From the ethereal mist-like fine white lines within the mountain ranges, one witnesses the artist's superlative mastery of his renowned chou li zhi jin technique (tearing fibres away from the paper). Selectively or randomly tearing fibres away from the reverse side of painted cotton paper, Liu achieves a unique marbling pattern akin to the muscle and sinew - thereby instilling into his compositions a poetic, autumnal spirit.
In 1966, Liu was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation to visit America for one year, marking the first step towards his international career. The current work was painted in 1967, a turning point of his career subsequent to his journey to the United States. Whilst travelling to different places in America, Liu participated in exhibitions at major museums and galleries in the country, most notably the large-scale touring exhibition New Chinese Landscape, which firmly established his presence in the American art scene. After only one year in the States, the artist was invited by the Rhodes Gallery to hold his first solo exhibition in New York and was praised by New York Times art critic John Canaday as an unyielding representative of the integration of traditional Chinese landscape painting and the concepts of modern abstract art. The artist subsequently signed with the Rhodes Gallery, and his works were acquired by institutions such as the Nelson Museum of Art, the Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, as well as the Mrs John D. Rockefeller III Collection. Around this time, internationally renowned art historian Michael Sullivan described Liu Kuo-Sung in his book A Short History of Chinese Art as one of the foremost artists of the new generation. In the following year, Liu was named one of the Ten Outstanding Youths in Taiwan and founded the Chinese Painting Study Society, which advocated the modernization of Chinese painting. Created in the context of such developments, the present lot bears witness to the artist’s road to international fame whilst also paving the way to Liu's 1970s masterpieces.