Visual Arts Centre


Liu Kang


Liu Kang

About the artist


About Our Artist

Born in Fujian Province in 1911, Liu Kang spent his early years in British Malaya and studied art in Shanghai and Paris. He is one of the pioneer artists in Singapore who influenced the future generation of artists not only through his works but also through his leadership in the Singapore Art Society and Association of Chinese Artists of Singapore. In 1970, the Singapore Government awarded Liu with the Public Service Star and in 1996 he was honoured with the Meritorious Service Medal.

He is well-known for his Balinese-themed figurative paintings and calligraphy. In May 2003, he gave the majority of his works to the Singapore Art Museum.

Liu was inspired by and often appropriated the styles of French-based modernist painters and Asian styles of art. Both these influences can be also seen in the Nanyang Style which Liu Kang developed together with fellow Singaporean artists. The Nanyang Style uses Chinese ink or oil on canvas and emerged during post-WWII where there was a need for a strong Southeast Asian identity. This style is unique to Southeast Asia and is now an art style associated with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

liu kang calligraphy copy





刘抗曾说“在南洋有很多值得我们去描绘的地方,特别是那些岛国自然风光很美,它的人物,人文的活动水准很高,所以它的建筑,它的舞蹈,它的音乐都有它特殊的情绪。特别富有南洋的情绪。所以我们1955年就搬到巴厘岛去实地写生。 ”





      刘抗在逝世于2004年6月1日 。他当时享年94岁。

Liu received his art education from the best of both hemispheres. Translated these influences and incorporated local Southeast Asian flavours into his work to create the distinct Nanyang style. Attributed to Singapore’s pioneer artists – Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee, Cheong Soo Pieng and Liu Kang, the Nanyang style of art first emerged after the four pioneer artists’ return from a study-cum-painting trip in Bali in 1952.

Some of his well-known paintings from this era include: “Artist and Model” (1954), “Batik Workers” (1954) and “Balinese Girl in Red Sarong” (undated). 

Liu Kang is a prolific artist and painter. His oeuvre of works is extensive and includes oil painting, pastel, Chinese ink painting, and calligraphy. Over Liu’s lifetime, he had been exhibited in Singapore and overseas including France, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the United States.

Timeline of Liu Kang’s Life:

1917–1926: His childhood years were spent in Muar, Malaya.
1926–1928: He enrolled in the Xinhua Art Academy, Shanghai, China.
1928–1933: His continued his art studies at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.
1933–1937: He became a professor of western painting at Shanghai College of Fine Arts.
1937: Weds Chen Jen Pen in Shanghai.
1937–1945: The couple moved to Muar when the Japanese invaded Shanghai. The couple then arrived in Singapore, where Liu teaches art at Nan Chiao Teachers’ Trainnig College Singapore and Chung Cheng High School. Japanese forces attacked Singapore. Thus they returned to Muar, where Liu opened a coffeeshop with his brother. They go back to Singapore to escape Japanese persecution
1946: He released his multivolume illustrated work, Chop Suey, on the atrocities during the Japanese Occupation.
1957: He held his first solo exhibition in Singapore.
1968: He became the founding member of the Singapore Art Society and became its president for 10 consecutive years.
1981: One of his largest local exhibition, Liu Kang Retrospective, was held at the National Museum Singapore. Over 200 artworks were displayed
1983: Liu Kang Exhibition Tour in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan in Taiwan.
1989: Paintings by Liu Kang exhibition was held at the National Museum Art Gallery
1997: Liu Kang at 87 exhibition was held at the Singapore Art Museum.
1998: Liu Kang at 88 exhibition was held at the Singapore Soka Association where 72 works of his family members were included.
2000:  His first solo exhibition in Beijing, China
2003: Liu Kang donated all his works to the Singapore Art Museum. Over 1000 works were donated.
2004: Liu Kang passes away of natural causes.

Calligraphy - Ink on paper
Rambutan - Chinese ink painting
Calligraphy - Ink on paper
Chinese ink on paper

Liu Kang Artwork


Outdoor Painting (In Johore)

Oil on canvas

85.5 cm x 127.2 cm

National Gallery Art Collection



Oil on canvas

1215 cm x 1540 cm

Liu Kang Family Collection at Singapore Art Museum


Artist and Model

Oil on canvas

1240 cm x 840 cm

National Heritage Board Art Collection


Life by the River

Oil on canvas

126 cm x 203 cm

National Gallery Art Collection

Screenshot 2022-05-06 at 5.18.35 PM

Durian Vendor

Oil on canvas

47.5 cm x 118.5 cm

National Gallery Art Collection

Screenshot 2022-05-06 at 5.40.36 PM


Oil on canvas

894 cm x 1391 cm x 65 cm

Liu Kang Family Collection at Singapore Art Museum