Liu Kang (1911 – 2004)
Liu Kang, also known as Liu Kai, was born in 1911, Fujian, China. Liu spent much of his childhood in Muar, Malaya, before being sent to Shanghai to complete his secondary school education. It was there that he enrolled in the Xinhua Art Academy under the tutelage of Liu Haisu. After graduating in 1928, Liu left for Paris to further his education at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière before returning to Xinhua Art Academy to teach Western painting. The onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War led Liu to flee to Muar, settling in Singapore briefly and then back to Muar during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. In 1946, Liu published Chop Suey, a collection of sketches documenting the atrocities.
After the war, Liu returned to Singapore and took on a pivotal role in Singapore’s art development. He served as President of the Society of Chinese Artists from 1946 to 1958. He became a founding member and President of the Singapore Art Society from 1968 to 1979. Liu also took up teaching positions at various schools and produced numerous critical writings on art education. Liu was among the four artists who embarked on the historic five-month-long field trip to Bali, Indonesia, in 1952 in search of a unique Southeast Asian artistic expression. Mostly known for his use of solid outlines and vibrant colours, many of Liu’s artistic creations visually resemble that of batik. In recognition of his contributions to the local arts, Liu received the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star) in 1970 and the Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Meritorious Service Medal) in 1996. Liu passed away in 2004.