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

Durian Vendor

Oil on canvas

47.5 cm x 118.5 cm

National Gallery Art Collection


Oil on canvas

894 cm x 1391 cm x 65 cm

Liu Kang Family Collection at Singapore Art Museum

Foundation In Digital Art

Embark on a captivating journey into the vibrant world of digital art! Our Foundation in Digital Art workshop invites budding creatives aged nine and above to unleash their imagination and hone their artistic skills in a dynamic, supportive environment. From mastering basic digital tools to crafting mesmerizing digital masterpieces, children will explore a spectrum of techniques guided by seasoned mentors. Through hands-on activities and interactive sessions, participants will discover the endless possibilities of digital expression while fostering creativity and critical thinking. Join us for an exhilarating adventure where young artists transform ideas into stunning visual realities, igniting a passion for digital art

Colour & Texture Exploration With Acrylic Painting & Collage

Prepare to unleash your inner artist in a kaleidoscope of color and creativity with ‘Colour Blast: Acrylic Painting & Collage Techniques’! Dive into a whirlwind adventure where vibrant hues and mesmerizing textures collide in a symphony of imagination. From mastering the art of seamless color blending to discovering the magic of mixed media collage, this journey is a playground for your artistic soul. With each brushstroke, explore new techniques that breathe life into your canvas, transforming it into a vibrant tapestry of expression. Join us and let your creativity run wild as you embark on this colorful escapade!”

World of Manga [Foundation & Styling]

A manga art workshop for children and teenagers sounds like a fantastic idea! Here’s how you might structure it:
Introduction to Manga: Begin by introducing what manga is, its history, and its influence on popular culture worldwide. Show examples of different manga styles and genres to give participants an overview.
Basic Drawing Techniques: Start with the fundamentals of drawing, such as line work, shapes, and proportions. Provide step-by-step instructions on how to draw basic manga characters, focusing on simple shapes that can be built upon.
Character Design: Move on to character design concepts, including creating unique characters, designing their personalities, and developing backstories. Encourage participants to get creative and think outside the box.
Expression and Emotion: Teach how to convey emotions and expressions through facial expressions, body language, and positioning of characters. This can be a fun and interactive exercise where participants practice drawing various emotions.
Storytelling and Paneling: Explore the basics of storytelling in manga, including paneling techniques, pacing, and layout. Show examples of different panel structures and discuss how they affect the flow of the story.
Inking and Coloring: Introduce participants to inking techniques using pens or markers. You can also cover digital inking for those interested. Then, demonstrate basic coloring techniques using markers, colored pencils, or digital software.
Feedback and Collaboration: Provide opportunities for participants to share their work and receive feedback from their peers and instructors. Encourage collaboration by having them work together on short manga projects or collaborative drawings.
Final Showcase: End the workshop with a showcase of participants’ work. This could be in the form of an exhibition, digital gallery, or printed booklet. Celebrate everyone’s creativity and progress throughout the workshop.
Remember to create a supportive and encouraging environment where participants feel free to express themselves and explore their creativity. And don’t forget to have fun! Manga is all about imagination and passion, so let that spirit shine through in your workshop.

Academy Drawing Traditions

The academy drawing and sketching tradition, rooted in centuries of artistic practice, emphasizes disciplined study of form, proportion, and technique. Originating from Renaissance workshops and formalized by institutions like the Royal Academy, it prioritizes meticulous observation and mastery of fundamental skills. Students progress from basic exercises to complex compositions, learning to depict still life and common objects with precision and expression. This tradition values both classical principles and innovation, encouraging artists to push boundaries while maintaining a deep respect for tradition. Through rigorous training and critique, artists within this tradition cultivate a strong foundation for creative exploration and artistic excellence.

Chinese Ink Painting and Calligraphy

This course on Chinese ink painting and calligraphy introduces young learners to the rich traditions of Chinese art. Through hands-on activities, students explore the basics of brush techniques, ink control, and the delicate art of Chinese script. They learn to appreciate the cultural significance of calligraphy and painting, developing skills in creating elegant strokes and expressive brushwork. The course fosters creativity, patience, and fine motor skills, while also providing insights into Chinese history and aesthetics. By the end, children gain confidence in their artistic abilities and a deeper understanding of Chinese cultural heritage.

Funk with Graffiti

Funk With Graffiti Workshop for children is an engaging and creative program aimed at introducing young artists to the vibrant world of graffiti and funk-inspired street style art. Participants learn the basics of graffiti history, techniques, and safety. Guided by professional graffiti artists, children explore the art of designing their unique tags, emphasizing creativity, expression, and individuality. The workshop includes hands-on activities, from sketching concepts to creating final designs with spray paint on provided surfaces. By the end of the session, children gain confidence in their artistic abilities and an appreciation for graffiti and funk as legitimate forms of street art. Each child completes two original artworks, which they proudly take home, showcasing their newfound skills and personal style.

Batik Tales

In the Batik Introduction Handkerchief Painting workshop, participants will learn the traditional art of batik, a wax-resist dyeing technique originating from Indonesia. The workshop begins with a brief history and overview of batik, highlighting its cultural significance and various techniques. Participants will then observe a demonstration of applying wax with tjanting tools and dyeing the fabric. Following the demonstration, each participant will design and create their own batik handkerchief, applying wax to create patterns and then dyeing their fabric. The workshop concludes with a group discussion, allowing participants to share their creations and reflect on their learning experience.