Liu Kang - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, June 6, 2021 | Phillips
  • “My artistic career has very much been influenced by this leader of the Fauvist School. Matisse has influenced me in many ways- the pursuit of innovation, the expansion of vision, and the sublimation of images...” —Liu Kang 

    Coming from the personal collection of the artist’s family, the present lot is an early, rare and striking work from 1930, by the Singaporean modernist painter Liu Kang, whose unrivalled influence in the establishment of the Nanyang style of painting in Singapore is incontestable.


    Born in Fujian Province and spending his formative years in Malaysia, Liu Kang returned to Shanghai from his art studies in Paris when he was 23 years old, and was hired by his mentor and cultural reformer Liu Haisu as an instructor to teach at his alma mater. The Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, the most important private art school in Republican China, at the time was recovering from the Nude Model Incident that almost shut down the school permanently due to its highly controversial life nude sketching classes. Liu found himself at the centre of the Chinese modern art movement, struggling to define modernity through synthesis of Eastern and Western art and culture, which at times were a conflict between progressive and conservative ideals. In the 1930s, Liu Kang presented his students with new techniques and styles, encouraging them to paint en plein air in the manner of the Barbizon school and the Impressionists.


    When Liu moved to Malaysia in 1937, and Singapore in 1942, he continued to be known for his artistic enquiry into the relationship between traditions, identities, Southeast Asian regionalism and the search of new artistic languages. Just as he is known for Matisse-like colour blocks and bold outlines, which can be likened to batik and Chinese ink painting, let us recall that his lifelong influences had primarily been founded on a quest to marry and innovate Europe and China from his early days, and finally adapting such diverging stimuli to become a quintessential character of Southeast Asia.


    • Provenance

      By descent from the artist to the present owner



Lobster & Lemon Still Life

signed and dated 'Kang [in Chinese] 1930' lower left
oil on canvas
46.5 x 55 cm. (18 1/4 x 21 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1930.

Full Cataloguing

HK$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for HK$441,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021