Art talk

Artist Allison Liu Explains Her Love For Shan Shui Painting

The Chinese artist and scholar explains her fascination with the age-old discipline.

Artist Allison Liu Explains Her Love For Shan Shui Painting
Allison Liu posing with her work Alienated Tiger, 200 x 200cm, ink and colour on paper.

An artist, scholar and collector, Allison Liu is notable for her proficiency in both the art and financial markets. Liu demonstrates a strong knowledge of landscape or shan shui painting, using the media of ink and colour on paper. A traditional Chinese style of painting that dates back to the 5th century, shan shui is famous for employing a different perspective. Instead of being art for the eyes, a shan shui work is meant to be an object for the mind to ponder.

“Applying colour in shan shui needs more effort, time and money since they come from expensive natural minerals,” says Liu. Collectors from all over the world, including Southeast Asia, China and Europe, have acquired her art. This piece (pictured, above) is from Alienation, a series she developed during the pandemic in 2021, and is Liu’s way of expressing the depression and isolation that Covid-19 has inflicted on society.

In psychology, black symbolises elegance and power. Black onyx attracts prosperity and brings victory. All the paintings in this series have black backgrounds. For this piece, the gold-orange colour is a shining light, symbolising hope during a difficult time. It is also the stripes on a tiger, chosen because the year 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, which is also Liu’s zodiac. “You can say this is a self-portrait,” says Liu, who is currently pursuing a PhD in aesthetics from Renmin University of China in Beijing.

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