Examination of Painting Technique and Materials of Liu Kang's Seafood and Hidden Self-Portrait
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This paper is a part of an ongoing research that aims to present the painted oeuvre of pioneering Singapore artist Liu Kang through the lens of conservation science instruments. The study concentrates on the painting Seafood from the National Gallery Singapore collection. The painting was created in 1932 and represents Liu Kang’s early artistic period, “Paris”. The painting was studied using complementary examination techniques. The imaging methods, including digital microscopy, NIR, XRR and RTI, revealed a hidden painting underlying the existing composition. XRR and NIR provided strong evidence that the image underneath is a portrait of a man while RTI revealed its texture. A comparative stylistic study of the hidden portrait was conducted with two other of Liu Kang’s self-portraits from the same period. The study exposed some similarities, leading to the conclusion that the hidden painting is Liu Kang’s self-portrait. Results of these imaging techniques initiated a further in-depth study to characterise and compare the pigments used in the creation of Seafood and that of the hidden self-portrait. The pigments of these two paintings were identified by means of IRFC, SEM-EDS, FTIR, PLM and XRF. Additionally, the in-depth study increased our understanding of both pictures and contributed to the growing body knowledge about Liu Kang’s “Paris” period.
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