Tina Keng Gallery

Guan Liang
1900-1986
Born in in Guangdong, China
Born in 1900, in Guangdong, China, Guan Liang (d. 1986) was well versed in Chinese painting and oil painting. He was also a fine arts educator, a professor at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Zhejiang, China, and the director of the Chinese Artists Association. The exhibition highlights his ink paintings (1964 to 1984) depicting characters from Chinese opera, a theme for which Guan Liang (1900-1996) was well known.
 
Guan Liang changed his chosen field from chemistry to art, while studying in Japan in 1917. His Japanese mentors Fujishima Takeji and Nakamura Rusici, taught him the basics of drawing and painting and introduced him to the works of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Guan claimed that the three masters Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Matisse had left a deep impression on him throughout his life, and in his works he sought to merge their Western techniques with Chinese themes as evident in the work Monk and Monkey King (1978). He retreated to Sichuan Province during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), where as a result of the Japanese blockade, he was unable to obtain oil paints. Therefore, in Sichuan he began using local materials, ink and brush, to paint the theme he is best known – the characters from Chinese opera.
 
He developed a passion for Chinese opera from a young age, having grown up attending performances with his father. He became deeply involved with the performing arts, intrinsically understanding the magnification of the drama on the stage, even acting in Beijing opera, acquiring costumes and props, and learning the art of theater from an opera singer. In his opera ink paintings, Guan focused on the facial expressions and the movement of the eyes, and captured the spirit of the melodrama of each character. Guan Liang once said, “Life transmits ideas to me; I transmit spirit to life,” and his ink paintings are livid expressions of this interweaving of life and drama.