Liu Kang is pioneer artist of Singapore. He was born in Fujian, China, in 1911. When his father became a rubber merchant in Malaysia, the family settled in Johor where Liu Kang spent the first decade of his childhood.
On his return to China in 1927, he enrolled in the Xinhua Academy of Art, Shanghai. He was under the tutelage of the Paris-trained Chinese impressionists, Chan Hong and Wang Yuan Bo. He was further influenced at that time by the Chinese ink works of Liu Hai Su, principal of the Academy.
In 1928, he left for France to study at the L'ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He returned to Shanghai in 1933 and taught at the Shanghai College of Fine Arts for four years.
In 1937, at the onset of the Japanese invasion of China,, Liu Kang was in Malaysia and what was supposed to be a holiday turned into a permanent relocation. He eventually settled in Singapore in1945.
Liu Kang is known for combining techniques from the East and the West to achieve a personal style. Experimenting with ideas he was exposed during his travels to China, Europe, Bali and India, Liu Kang comes up with new interpretations of Nanyang (Southeast Asian) scenes.
Liu Kang also taught art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Liu Kang continues to be a strong influence in much of Singapore art through his students. Liu Kang is a founding member of the Singapore Art Society, and is credited with developing the Nanyang style.
In 1970, he was awarded the Public Service Star by the Singapore Government. He was honored by the same agency in 1996 with the Meritorious Service Medal. His works, spanning from 1935 to 1997, are a testament to his enduring legacy as an artist and a teacher who has contributed greatly to Singapore Art.