Every Painting is a silent poem
When Kevin was 19 years old, he had the chance to work at a Temple in China rebuilding Buddha statues that had been destroyed by the Red Guard during the Culture Revolution.
“I learnt a lot from the masters about how to draw, to sculpture. In the process of sculpture, I learnt more about Chinese traditional culture and Buddha’s philosophy which have influenced me in my whole life,” says Kevin.
Kevin studied Chinese Literature at JinNan University in China from 1979-1982. His Father was a writer and poet and he gained great inspiration from him to enjoy Chinese literature and poetry as a profession. Poetry and literature influence all of Kevin’s artistic work.
“Painting is a silent poem, a poem is a spoken painting,” says Kevin.
Kevin began studying computer related courses in 1984-1986 at Queens College. It was during this time that an artist friend asked him to help set up an outdoor art show in Mystic, Connecticut.
“My friend sold out all his original oil paintings on the first day. I though that was much more fun and creative than computer coding,” Kevin says.
Kevin decided to drop out of his studies and began to paint and sell art in art shows in 1989. “I have been exhibited more than nine hundred art shows or art festivals around the US over the past thirty years.”
Although Kevin has great success now over a long career of hard work and passion, he was not always successful. When he first started his shows, his paintings did not sell well. His wife had just given birth to their second child and Kevin felt a lot of pressure to support his family. He decided to take a part-time job as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
“The owner of the restaurant saw me struggling and was trying to help me. He bought one or two oil paintings from me once a month for a year and hung them in his restaurant and home,” says Kevin. The customers of the restaurant liked the paintings on the restaurant wall and began to buy art directly from Kevin. A year later Kevin was able to quit his waiter job and became a full-time artist.
" Autumn Reflection" oil on canvas 1995.
Kevin did not have the confidence in the beginning of his career and would frequently visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to learn from impressionism paintings like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. He learnt color and technique from these famous paintings that would eventually lead to his own style. His artistic inspirations are Hans Hofmann, Wolf Kahn, Joan Mitchell, and Gordon Parks. Although Kevin claims he did not find his own artistic style for a long time.
“I have painted over many years and it naturally started to develop. I worked from photorealist to impressionist to abstract. It can be a struggle to find your own voice,” he says.
A natural artist, Kevin decided to extend his creativity to photography. Before the internet or digital cameras were mainstream Kevin had to bring his paintings to a photography studio to photograph his finished paintings. This was often very expensive and with parking tickets in downtown Manhattan it starts to add up. This expensive cost was the leading inspiration to learning photography. Kevin bought a camera and lighting sets and learnt how to photograph his paintings. The landscape photographs Kevin captures while traveling to art shows provides him with more inspiration to paint the natural wonders of the world.
"South Florida" photograph 2019
Kevin spends almost two hundred days on the road in a year doing art shows. “I have travelled to almost every state in the US. I love to paint outside and had a directly interaction with nature's lighting. I think people like landscape paintings because it has personal connection,” Kevin says.
Kevin teaches in schools a couple of times a year, demonstrating different techniques to students interested in art. Kevin aspires to teach his grandchild when he retires from the traveling art shows.
Kevin Liang taught art class in Middle School, IL 2019
Kevin gets commissioned to make art about four to six times per year for people who have seen his works and want to create something very personal, such as a place they have been or their gardens. The hardest aspect of Kevin’s work is coming up with new ideas all the time for different art, not wanting to repeat himself with previous work. The second hardest aspect of his work is selling, it is much harder than painting.
Kevin usually travels to art shows all over the country for most of the year, however due to COVID art shows in 2020 have shut down. His work can be found on his website kevinliangart.com and personal social media pages facebook.com/kevinliang20 to admire and purchase.