Liu Dan rehomed in New York after the 80's, and remained steadfast in his pursuit of ink painting's artistic tradition. Taihu Stone, a spiritual icon and cultural hallmark since time immemorial in China, has further underscored the structural and expressionistic charm of modern art under Liu Dan's graceful, literati-inspired touch. Traditions are endowed with an evolutional contour and new possibilities under Liu's restrained application, while retaining their timeless dignity.
Taihu Stone represents an ageless moral and spiritual sanctum of Chinese literati and scholars. Guo Xi of Northern Song Dynasty asserted, "Rocks are the nature's bones and, with bones, value is placed on their being strong and well covered, not poking through the surface." Bearing the likeness of a rare ganoderma on Tianshan, and the clouds that emerge from behind the cavern, Taihu Stone has epitomised all of nature's wonders: it is the encapsulation of China's most magnificent caves, gullies, mountains and gorges.
Chinese Literati enshrined quaint rocks for their private viewing pleasure. To that end, Liu Dan presents the panoramic view of the stone to his audience with precise wrinkle, rub, dot and hatching techniques. In close-up, micro-universes are ensconced in all the details. Liu's brushwork has maximized the stone's abstract gracefulness, including the minute change of light and shadows, its dynamically rocky surface and symmetry. Liu has delivered a compelling proclamation of the rock's spiritual essence.
Bai Juyi, beloved poet of Tang Dynasty, said of Taihu Stone: "the stones, though unable to speak, promised to remain my faithful friends." The statement effused Bai's admiration for the historic monument. The stone in Liu's piece is like a reticent companion, who tells of the mysteries of an evolving universe in a wordless language that comforts the soul.