Liu Jian

1961 Shanghai, China


Liu Jian was born in Shanghai in 1961, and at eighteen was one of the few students accepted to attend the Beijing People’s Army Art College. At twenty-four, he was made life-time resident of the Traditional Chinese Painting Academy, Shanghai, and began teaching thereafter. There he met and worked with many prolific painters, and learned first-hand both Northern and Southern styles of traditional Chinese art. A photograph from the artist’s study shows Liu Jian as a young man addressing a group of elderly painters, including Wu Guanzhong and Ye Qianyu. After several major shows across France, Germany, and Italy, the artist eventually settled in Canada in 1990. Liu’s early works incorporated broad swathes of colour and texture, and were undoubtedly influenced by Western abstract artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Joseph Beuys. In contrast to his early oil and acrylic works, Liu’s ink works embrace traditional painting techniques especially in his emphasis on lines and the freedom of his brushstrokes. The artist’s works are embodiments of his experiences and education, like dreamscapes of what ink paintings could be, with the term “ink” loosely refined by his technical execution. He blends together traditional and abstract styles, in different tones of black, with hints of colour here and there.


Alisan Fine Arts first showed his works in 1987 as part of the landmark exhibition A State of Transition: Contemporary Paintings from Shanghai. Since then Alisan Fine Arts has held four solo exhibitions for the artist. Notably, the gallery’s exhibition for Liu in 1994 was held at the Central Plaza in support of the Hong Kong Community Chest and was opened by its President Mrs. Lavender Patten, the wife of Chris Patten, the then governor of Hong Kong. Over the years he has had numerous solo exhibitions in Europe, North America, and Hong Kong. In 2016 we had a joint exhibition for him and Zhang Yu, raising a question "Is it Ink Art" which is the most debated subject in recent years. His works have been collected by the Hong Kong Museum of Art; American Club, Hong Kong;  the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, Canada; Bank of China, Hong Kong; Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan; Prince Haik, Austria; Exxon Energy Ltd., Hong Kong.


In a recent conversation with Liu he said “while working with Mrs. King and Alisan Fine Arts over the last thirty years, what I have felt most is a feeling of sincerity and respect. That is something I find lacking in collaborating with Mainland Chinese galleries. All those years as a young artist, I was fortunate enough to be cared for and loved in the same manner as one experiences from one’s elders [and family].”


1961             Born Shanghai, China

1979-83        Studied and graduated at the Art Academy of the Chinese Liberation Army, China

1985-89        Lecturer at the Chinese Paintings Academy of Shanghai, China

1988-89        Director of Shanghai Youth Artist Association

1989              Moved to Toronto, Canada where he currently resides



  • Is it Ink Art? – Works by Liu Jian and Zhang Yu, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • The Return, New Acrylic Paintings, Ch’i Contemporary Fine Art, New York, USA
  • Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • The Return, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • New Beginning, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Beginnings, Finer Side Galleries, Washington DC, USA
  • New Faber Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Europe in My Mind, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Walsh Gallery, Chicago, USA
  • From China to America: The Art of a New Generation, DP Fong Galleries, San Jose, California, USA
  • Finer Side Galleries, Maryland, USA
  • Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Societa Belle Arti, Verona, Italy
  • Gallery d’arte Piazza Erbe, Verona, Italy
  • Festival Dei Mondo, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, USA
  • Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
  • Alisan Fine Arts, Central Plaza, Hong Kong 
  • Painting & Calligraphy, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Explorations: Recent Works by Liu Jian, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Chinese Gallery of Art, New York, USA
  • Art Gallery of Bancroft, Ontario, Canada
  • Rivoli Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Queen’s Quay Terminal, Toronto, Canada
  • Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Chinese Paintings Academy of Shanghai, Shanghai, China
  • Warwick Arts Trust, London, England


  • West Bund Art & Design Fair 2018, Alisan Fine Arts, West Bund Art Center, Shanghai, China

  • Abstraction as Painterly Rhetoric: A Case Study Between Germany and China, Pifo Gallery, Beijing, China
  • A Contemporary Art Scene in Shanghai & Open Artists Workshops, 696 Weihai Road, Shanghai, China           
  • A Contemporary Art Scene in Shanghai, Doland Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China                        
  • Another Look - Contemporary Art from Shanghai”, Washington DC, USA
  • Artcore Gallery/Fabrice Marcolini, Toronto, Canada
  • Fran Willis Gallery, Victoria, Canada
  • Blooming Arts, Nanaimo, Canada
  • Two-man show, Gallery of Shanghai Chinese Paintings Academy, Shanghai, China
  • Eight-man show, Chinese Painting Research Institute, Beijing, China
  • Shanghai Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, China
  • Contemporary Painters of Shanghai, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  • 5th Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China                                      
  • Into the 20th Year: State of Transition, Contemporary Painting from Shanghai Revisited, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Shanghai Abstract Art Exhibition, Mingyuan Art Center, Shanghai, China                                  
  • Four-Man Show, Shanghai Time Square, Shanghai, China   
  • Performance Painting, Music Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • 1st Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
  • 2nd Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
  • 3rd Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
  • 4th Shenzhen International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
  • Galleria d’Arte Piazza Erbe, Verona, Italy
  • International Asian Art Fair, New York, USA
  • Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
  • Chinese New Year Show, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Festival Dei due Mondi, Basilica Santa Eufemia, Spoleto, Italy
  • Explorations: Recent Works by Liu Jian, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Galerie Rochon, Toronto, Canada
  • Drawings 1991, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • Great Wall Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Japan Arts Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
  • New Faber Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Nielsen Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Drawings from Distant Shows, City College of New York, New York, USA
  • Chinese Modern Paintings: Landscape, Figure, Flower & Birds, organized by Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong
  • National Art Show, Beijing, China
  • One Hundred Contemporary Calligraphers, Hong Kong
  • Five-man show, Art East Art West Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
  • Newhouse Centre for Contemporary Art, Harbour Cultural Centre, Staten Island, New York, USA
  • International Arts Festival, Shanghai Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, China
  • Festival of Chinese Culture, Denver, Colorado, USA
  • A State of Transition-Contemporary Painting from Shanghai, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong


1985              First Runner-up in National Calligraphy Competition in China

1988              “The Sea is Behind” - Grand prize in national competition, Young Artist of China

1991              Sunday Arts Entertainment, CBC, Canada

1993              Grant from French Consulate, solo exhibition and lecture at The Pompidou Centre, Paris, France     

1995              B Grant from the Canada Arts Council, Canada                            



Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, Canada

Sun Life Corp., Toronto, Canada

Ms. Judith Smith, New York, USA

Ms. Julie Curtis, New York, USA

Prince Haik, Austria

Pucci Collection, Italy

Grand Hyatt, Taipei, Taiwan

Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong

American Club, Hong Kong

Bank of China, Hong Kong

BHF Bank, Hong Kong

UBS Bank, Hong Kong

Brown Brothers Harriman, Hong Kong

Exxon Energy Ltd, Hong Kong

Tao Ho Design, Hong Kong