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Guan Liang
Guan Liang  (1900 — 1986)
Guan Liang was born in 1900 in Fanyu, Guangdong province. At seventeen, he went to Japan to study art in Toyko. In 1922, he returned to China and taught in various schools including the Shanghai Fine Arts School and the Hangzhou National College of Art. In 1927, Guan Liang joined the Beifa War (the first revolutionary civil war against the imperialists and the northern warlords) and he was in charge of publicity and arts for the General Political Department of the Beifa Army. During the Resistance War against Japan, he took part in the Art and Culture Movement. Guan Liang held his first solo exhibition in Chengdu in 1940 and throughout the 1940's and 1950's was involved in many group exhibitions in China. In 1957, he was one of three Chinese artists chosen to exhibit at the Berlin Arts Institute and was sent to East Germany by the Chinese government for the opening. In the 1960's, Guan Liang settled in Shanghai, remaining there until his death in 1986. An important representative of the first generation of Chinese oil painters, he was a recognized educator. He was a council member of the Chinese Artists' Association, member of the Shanghai Literature and Art Union, vice chairman of the Chinese Artists' Association Shanghai Branch, director of the Art Research Office of Shanghai Jiaotong University, and a member of Shanghai Research Institute of Culture and History. In 1987, the Shanghai Art Museum held a memorial exhibition and seminar on the works of Guan Liang.


  • The Boat People, C. 1950's
    Oil on Canvas
    9" x 12" (22.9cm x 30.5cm)

    About this work

    Guan Liang first began working in oils while studying western painting techniques in Japan, and only later in his career used brush and ink for what would become a well-known series on theatrical characters. However, his style is recognizable in both mediums, characterized by a limited use of color and the way in which he overlined with hard edges, as if drawing on top of the painting. Guan Liang commenting on his art has said, "My own oil techniques tend to emphasize the flowing style of some of our ethnic art. I generally apply color lightly, and mix it directly on the canvas. Simplicity is an element I strive for and I handle my subjects with reserve, which is a part of our national culture."     

  • View from the Mountain Peak, C. 1950's
    Oil on Canvas
    9" x 15" (22.9cm x 38.1cm)

    About this work

    True to a traditional subject in ancient Chinese art, Guan Liang in his painting "View from the Mountain Peak," has depicted low lying clouds amongst mountains and valleys encircling upstanding rocks, seen from an elevated perspective. In oils, however, this usually serene landscape comes to life given its blending of color and contrast.   

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