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Liu, Zhi (1941 - , Harbin, China)


"You are not a lucky star, because you do not expect thunderous applause to rise on the stage. You are a shepherd who is faithful to the grasslands. You forever, quietly whip and rush a herd of sheep to go deep into the years. That flock is your work created with your heart, is your most precious wealth of life, but also your real emotional partner in life.” - Zhao, Tingchun

The elegance, harmony and quietness of Liu, Zhi's “gray art charm” are prominently demonstrated in his art. Paying special attention to the visual impact, this gray style has set him apart from his predecessors and peers. For over half of the century, Liu has made great efforts on emphasizing the form language of point, line and plane, as well as the combination of black and white in the gray scale in his work. This is his form of meaning. The sense of individuality and cultural significance in his painting makes people feel the burning of the spiritual mind.

A long time teacher at Heilongjiang Provence Art Academy in China and a member of China Artists Association, Mr. Liu, Zhi was born in 1941 in Shenyang, China, where he spent the entirety of his childhood. Influenced by his grandfather who was good at traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, which was later called by Liu his enlightenment art education, Mr. Lui began his own creation of art as a teenager.

At a critical point in his life when he worked hard to apply for the Academy of Fine Art, his father lost his successful hotel business during the political unrest occurring in China and his family was forced to relocate to Harbin, China. He was at the age of 18 and started working as artistic worker at the Harbin City Opera. Despite the nature of the work, what mattered to him is he could still express himself through painting. Liu said "What makes me happy is that this city has a beautiful Songhua River. It was sparkling. Water, sky, ships, and unique and exquisite Russian-influenced buildings on the banks of the river... All of this made me intoxicated." He began to paint and sketch obsessively and tirelessly using the Songhua River as his inspiration. All his spare time was devoted to create paintings off the waterfront of Harbin.

In 1962, Liu met the famous painter Mr. Zhang, Qinruo, a teacher who was exiled to the Harbin Art Academy due to sliding with political "rightists". Soon he became the apprentice of Zhang. Lui said in his biography that Zhang has helped him to sublimate his oil painting art. Just like the fish in the tank was returned to the river, Liu found his spiritual home in front of the canvas. Mr. Zhang Qinruo once said: “It is very difficult to put people's feeling about artistic creation or art concepts into words. Every artist’s work is his or her best attempt to communicate these feelings.”  

From watercolor to oil painting, from realistic to expressionism, Liu pursued unremittingly the exploration of traditional and modern forms and concepts, and to create artistic steps associated with his temperament and Chinese cultural spirit. 

Despite the serious deformation of his back, waist and legs due to long term painting, Liu said that he never has had regrets because painting is his life and his spiritual home.

Today, in the turbulent urban life, many people pay extreme attention to self-promotion and chase market efficiency, but Liu, Zhi is still focus on creation. He devoted himself to his paintings with a calm state of mind. His friends often teases him and say that he is a good old man who is not polluted.

"I am an ordinary person. I am not good at using words, socializing, or being charming, nor social climbing. I don't put much weight on gains or losses. Even my family and friends always say that I am dull and stupid. I haven't obtained any fame or fortune and have often been cheated in society... But I still don't feel remorseful, because I have always been alive and happy. This was all because I have been mesmerized by the true joy of my spiritual world that I have been cultivating - that is, the art of painting."  - Liu, Zhi 

National Exhibition & Awards

  • Liu, Zhi academic exhibition with 68 paintings, Harbin Normal University Art Museum, China 2011.01

  • The Five exhibition, Xiamen Art Museum of Chinese Elite, 2009

  • Solo exhibition with 45 paintings in "798" Hongbo Gallery, Beijing, 2008. 07

  • Autumn Oil Painting Exhibition, Heilongjiang Yushun Art Museum, China 2006

  • Small Space Oil Painting Exhibition, Heilongjiang Art Museum, China 2002

  • The Old Masters, Heilongjiang Art Museum, China 2001

  • "South China Mainland", The 9th China National Art Exhibition, 1999

  • Solo exhibition with 35 paintings in the National Art Museum of China, 1998. 08

  • "The Sail on South Sea", Silver Award, Heilongjiang Oil Painting Art Exhibition, 1998

  • "Songhua River #1", the Academic Award in Northeast China Oil Painting Exhibition, 1998

  • Solo exhibition with 40 paintings at the Mary Ribe Gallery, Sydney, Australia 1994.05

  • Solo exhibition with 35 paintings in East and West Gallery, Melbourne, Austr.1994.11

  • "Qiu Shuang", the 1st prize in Northern China Oil Painting Exhibition, 1992

  • "Sailing" in China Modern Art Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan, 1991

  • "Autumn" in the China Oil Painting Exhibition, 1987


  • "The Shadow of Sail", Chinese Art Gallery, 1997

  • The book "Liu Zhi Oil Painting Collection", 1990

  • Painting of two, Chinese Fine Arts, 1990

Permanent Collections

  • "White Sail" in National Art Museum of China (1991)

  • "Autumn Bug" series(4 pieces) in Beijing International Art Gallery (1991)

  • "Autumn" in Heilongjiang Art Museum (2005)

  • "Songhua River #3" in Heilongjiang Museum (2009)

  • "Songhua River #6" in Xiamen Art Museum of Chinese Elite(2009)

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