(LIAO JICHUN, 1902-1976)
Sun-Moon Lake
signed in Chinese (lower right)
oil on canvas
31.5 x 41 cm. (12 3/8 x 16 1/8 in.)
Painted in the mid 1950s
Christie's Hong Kong, 26 November, 2006 Lot 172
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Tai-Yang Art Society, The 19th Taiyang Exhibition Catalogue, Taiwan, 1956 (illustrated).
Artist Publishing Co., Taiwan Fine Arts Series 4: Liao Chi-Chun, Taipei, Taiwan, 1992 (illustrated, pp. 64-65).
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, From the Ground - Artist Associations in 1950s Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan, 2003 (illustrated).
Taiwan,The 19th Taiyang Exhibition, 1956.
Taipei, Taiwan, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, From the Ground - Artist Associations in 1950s, 2003.


Eric Chang
Eric Chang




The technical foundation and concepts Liao Chi-Ch'un gained during his early studies in Japan brought out in his work a rigorous emphasis on sketching and the use of bold color. Liao's individual creative style can therefore be seen as based on both his solid foundations in painting from life as well as his strong innate powers of observation. According to an interview on Liao in Wang Sufeng's book Entering the Art World of Liao Chi-chun, in the 1950s Liao was very much anxious to have a breakthrough on his art style as he "repeatedly paints the same subject for several times. In additional to it, paintings with different experimentation of art styles are always seen at the same time in his studio." Later, Liao explored abstraction concurrent with the founding of the Orient Painting Society and the Fifth Moon Group in 1957, where artists vigorously advocated modern art and new form of art creations. Liao's Sun-Moon Lake from 1957 (Lot 1014), therefore provides us with a clear view for the study of Liao's historic transformation of style in this important period.

The charm of famous scenic views was a source of inspiration in Liao's work, through which he transmitted the feel of a particular locale as well as a portrait of the lives of its people. In Sun-Moon Lake Liao's expert use of color was prominently displayed through the abundant use of bluish green to outline the lake, the distant mountain and the sky, as well as the use of bold heavy tone to draw the near view and the boats stationed at the bank. As what Li Yuanheng, Liao's student has commented on his use of color, "my respected teacher Liao is in favor of portraying different gradation of colors by applying numerous layers of pigment on the canvas. In this regard, a sense of harmony just comes out naturally if not paradoxically amid the thick heavy coloring. What I really appreciate most of my teacher is that white color he used." In the painting, the reflection of sunlight has been highlighted by the stroke of white on the canopy of the near boat, a color he used to strengthen the steadiness while simultaneously vivify the stagnant atmosphere brought about by the use of black dark brownish and dark yellowish green on the rocks. Through the application of vermilion, Naples yellow and purple, strong colors that mostly appear in folk cultures, Liao balances the whole composition of powder-cyan. A native of Fengyuan, Liao Chi-Ch'un was heavily influenced by temple architectures and religious customs. With the inspiration of all these childhood images, as well as his grandma's embroidery, Liao's unique and talented mastery of colors was substantially manifested in the paintings.

Ingenious and skillful, the arrangement of lines and forms is another important development in Liao's paintings. Unlike Chen Cheng-Po's way of employing lines, Liao did not make them a significant pivot in driving the dynamic movement for the whole painting. Rather, he successfully managed the very principles of forms at the blink of applying every brushstroke. Adding to this point, the choice of color should be made prior to every motion of application so that the scattering and grouping of the visual elements appear spontaneous and natural. With a closer look at Sun-Moon Lake the intimate connection between color, brushstrokes and forms is evident in objects like the boat, the shore and the distant mountain as well as the sparseness and denseness of the overall composition. Accordingly, not only can the spectacular scene of Sun-Moon Lake be appreciated, but Liao's mature facility with structures and forms is also apparent. His solid foundation in sketching is obvious in the few simplifying strokes that depict the most basic forms. Therefore, the focus of the whole painting should be placed on the perfect match between the color sense and form of the object but not the mere beauty of the scene. In the same way that finely painted Chinese calligraphy can be appreciated even by non-Chinese readers, in Liao's finest paintings the sense of harmony is generated by the concrete structure, composition and free-flowing technique. Similarly, as the prime aspiration for Liao in his art, colors and structures as complementary to each other became the key emphasizing point in Sun-Moon Lake, but not the correct depiction and mere representation of scenic views. This breakthrough in Liao's works continued into the late 1960s, when Liao Chi-Ch'un has reached climax of his art career with fully abstract paintings, in which he continued his established approach on the unique exploration of forms, colors and lines.