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"Max Chiwei Liu (1911-2002)"
2002-05-08 until 2002-07-07
Pretoria Art Museum
Arcadia, Pretoria, , ZA South Africa

The artist died on Friday 12 April 2002 at the age of 92, only one month before the opening of his exhibition in South Africa. Max Liu was well known in Taiwan as electrical engineer, watercolorist, cultural anthropologist, writer and adventurer. He published more than thirty books on art, e.g. Painting Watercolors, Basic Theories of Modern Painting and Joy in Art.

Max Liu was influenced by his cultural anthropology studies among aborigines, Vietnam, Peru and East Africa. Paul Kleeís dreamlike images also fascinated the artist. Max Liu painted from his imagination semi-abstract images with a mystical, almost primitive feel. His work was once descriped as innocent and humorous without academic seriousness. His work range from still lifeís to figure studies to nature studies in watercolour and mixed media.

Max Liu was already thirty-eight years old when he was inspired by the watercolorist Hsiang Hung and started painting. In 1951 he held his first solo exhibition. Max Liu had no formal training. He became friends with well-known artists like Hsiang Hung and Chang Chieh and lecturers at the fine arts department of National Taiwan Normal University and learned whatever he could from them.

In 1965 he was recruited by the American navy as an engineer in the Vietnam War. While in Saigon, he worked for the American Army in daytime, but during the nights and holidays he would devote himself to painting. Inspired by Vietnamís ancient culture, he explored the countryside for relics and ancient shrines and art. Back in Taiwan he held a exhibition at the National Museum of History in Taipei in 1967.

Max Liu was then invited to lecture at the Fine Arts Department of Fuhsingkang College. He also published his essays on art for which he was rewarded the Literature and Art prize by the Sun Yat-sen Culture Foundation. In 1971 he retired as an engineer and devoted himself fulltime to his art and anthropology studies.

In 2001 John Ming-Liang Lee, then the Taipei representative Officer in Ireland arranged for Max Liu to exhibit his work at the James Joyce Centre, Dublin, Ireland. John Ming-Liang Lee, now the Director General of the Taipei Liaison Office in Johannesburg, contacted the Pretoria Art Museum in 2001 to arrange a exhibition for Max Liu in South Africa which opens on 8 May 2002 by Ambassador Du Ling of Taiwan.

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