Zee Stone

"Landscapes of the Mind"

- Paintings by Liu Zhen

27 April - 15 May 2006

Zee Stone Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of lacquer paintings by Liu Zhen, a Shanghai-based artist whose mastery of the medium takes one of the most ancient art forms in China to a new level of aesthetic expression.

Liu Zhen works on a large scale in triptych panels or screens. His abstract landscapes are reminiscent of the “splashed ink” paintings of the later master Zhang Daqian (1899-1993), whose technique he greatly admires. What makes Liu Zhen’s work unique is that he engraves fragments of ancient calligraphy and seal carvings into the finished surface.

Producing a lacquer painting is a time-consuming, meticulous task that may take months to complete. Up to ten layers of coloured lacquer are applied, and each one must dry before the next one is applied. Liu Zhen also uses sand, ceramic dust, and gold and silver leaf for the calligraphy. Though still a young artist, Liu Zhen handles this difficult medium with apparent ease. He says, “For me, lacquer is polished, rich, and a thing of beauty. I am interested in the fusion of old and new – a traditional Chinese medium, a modern Chinese expression.”

Born in Jiangsu Province in 1970, Liu Zhen studied mural art at the Central Academy of Art in Beijing and decided to focus on lacquer painting. He has travelled widely all over China, developing a love of natural landscapes. He also has a strong interest in ancient Chinese culture, in particular antique works of art, ancient wallpaintings and traditional Chinese seal carvings. An important feature of art of the past is the patina, the surface texture, that a piece has acquired over time, and it is this which Liu Zhen seeks to express.