An established Chinese artist, Liu Jian works in an abstract expressionist style.
He attended the Art Institute of Beijing where he received his bachelor of arts degree. He became the resident painter and lecturer at the Chinese Painting Academy of Shanghai, and later a part-time lecturer at the Shanghai Vocational School of Arts and the Director of the Shanghai Youth Artist Association.
During this time, Jian’s work was strongly calligraphic. He worked with abstractions of the traditional landscape and textual themes, though still within the context of traditional Chinese brush painting. In 1987, he visited Germany and a new world was opened to him. He was particularly influenced by the work of Joseph Beuys, and from 1989 forward, Jian incorporated these new influences into his own paintings. He utilized bold brush strokes, drips, and splashes of colour with the Chinese ink. Following the Tiananmen Square massacre, he moved to Canada where he completed a series of sombre canvases with overt political references. He later turned to experimentations with oils and acrylics on canvas. Jian loves to experiment with his techniques and media because, as he says, "the problems facing painting are formal problems. When the solution of a problem takes form, a painting is born."
Since relocating to Canada Jian has served as the director of the Ontario Chinese Art Association and as the director for the Gallery of Ontario for Chinese Art. He has shown regularly in Hong Kong with Alison Fine Art and in Toronto. He has also shown in Verona, Taipei, London, Paris, Barcelona, Munich, Hamburg, Shanghai, and in New York City. His work is featured in the collections of Prince Haik Zaruan of Austria, Ms. Hope Rockefeller of New York, The National Bank of Canada in Hong Kong, the United States Embassy of Brunei, Feoso Oil, Ltd., Robert Mondavi of California, Bill Kohrs of IBM, the Union Swiss Bank and the Belgian Consulate in Hong Kong among others.
Kim Dorland pushes the boundaries of representation through an exploration of memory, material, nostalgia, identity and place. Drawing heavily from the history and language of painting, the loose yet identifiable scenes are interjected with areas of heavy abstract impasto. His refusal to remain faithful to one medium or approach plays into the symbiotic nature of his work.
Kim Dorland's practice reflects a fascination with the enigmatic Canadian landscape as it comes into contact with contemporary urban experience. The psychological atmosphere represented by Dorland is confrontational and hallucinatory, disrupting conventional ideas that the natural world is a place of solace and contemplation. Using a dense matrix of intense colours, delirious textures, and passionate painterly touch, Dorland brings a paradoxical sense of displacement in which the artist's relationship with nature is simultaneously one of awe and fear. In parallel with this, fragments of contemporary urban life materialize themselves in the form of ghostly figures and graffiti remnants. It is through these duelling representations of the landscape that Kim Dorland has created a body of work endowed with an emotional charge whose potential far exceeds the formal confines of the canvas.
He has exhibited globally, including shows in Milan, London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. His work is featured in the Contemporary Art Foundation (Japan), The Sander Collection (Berlin); Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal; Glenbow Museum (Calgary); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Art Gallery of Alberta, the Audain Art Museum and numerous important private collections.
Joseph Drapell was born into the German- (and later Soviet-) occupied small town of Humpolec (near Prague) in 1940. His parents brought up their three boys not to believe in the official propaganda of the occupying regimes. Like the Czech novelist Milan Kundera, Drapell felt that life was elsewhere. Drapell escaped his birth country at his first opportunity at the age of twenty-five in order to develop his art in the free West. He landed in Halifax in 1966, grateful to Canada for accepting him. Drapell adopted an island (B-109) in Georgian Bay as his new spiritual home. The island has inspired (directly or indirectly) all his mature artistic developments to date.
Drapell's aim was to contribute to the art of painting, rather than to merely make a living as an artist. Between 1968 and 1970, he studied under various visiting artists and lecturers at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. This is where he first started to develop his compression technique as a response to the paintings of Morris Louis. He settled in Toronto in 1970. Drapell walked the streets of New York with a roll of large paintings, until he was discovered by the Robert Elkon Gallery on Madison Avenue. After three exhibitions there (and several in Toronto where he was discovered by Jared Sable of the Dunkelman Gallery), Drapell achieved his first artistic breakthrough in 1974 with the Great Spirit Paintings. Joseph divides his time between Toronto and Georgian Bay (Lake Huron).
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