June 4, 1900
Liu’s Jipiao’s BirthJune 4, 1900
June 4, 1900
Liu Jipiao was born on June 4, 1900.
Of Hakka parentage, he was one of the youngest of eight from an affluent entrepreneurial family which owned a color dye factory and employed 500 workers. He was a child prodigy. This is the portraits he drew of his parents at the age of nine.
As a child, Liu watched and learned the design and construction of Chinese porcelain painting with skilled craftsmen – this art is traditionally passed down only from father to son. But he was so talented and interested in the subject, the local artists took him under their wing. Later, he would go on to write about the entire process.
Study in Paris1918-1921
Liu headed to France to study in Paris at the Universite de Paris, Sorbonne. Liu had to be fluent in order to continue his studies at L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Before his studies at L’Ecole commenced he traveled around Europe with his friends Lin Fengmian and Lin WenZheng. They even lived in Berlin for 6 months!
L’Ecole des Beaux-ArtsMay 1922
May 8, 1922
Liu entered L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study art under the tutelage of famous neo-impressionist painter Ernest Laurent.
Liu would later change his course of study to architecture which he called “3 dimensional art”.
Exposition Chinoise d’art ancien, Palais du Rhin
Liu was the Secretary General of the AACF “Opus Society” Paris – An elite group of Chinese artist/scholars headed by Lin Fengmian promoting western style art and research on aesthetics and art history. The Opus Society organized the Strasbourg Expo and was responsible for the China installation and decorations for the China Display.
He exhibited watercolors and ceramic pieces, “Danseuse Palais Imperial” shows his fluent illustrator style, as well as an orientalist style of “L’Imperatrice Yang Kouei- Fee Sortant de Son Bain” , and “Lin Tay-you Enterrant des Fleures Mortes”This was a precursor to the group’s participation in the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes 1925.
Paris Exposition of 1925April 1925
International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts
Liu and his cohorts worked on the China Section in the Grande Palais. Designed title page and cover of Catalogue for Chinese Section, 1925 Paris, Exposition Internationale. He also designed the interior design for the entryway and display rooms.
Notice the dragon and phoenix framing the doorway that mirrors the catalog cover illustrating the fusion of Eastern and Western styles in LJP’s work.
Liu became co-founder and Head of Design at Hangzhou National Academy of Arts. (The first graduate school in China to teach Western art.) Today it is the Chinese Academy of Arts.
Hangzhou National Academy of Arts professors and their families. Pictured on the far left is Liu Jipiao, Cai Yuanpei’s daughter, Cai Weilian, Li Shuhua and his family, Lin Fengmian (school president) and his wife.
June 6, 1929
Westlake ExpoJune 6, 1929
Liu dedicated 6 months of his life to the design and construction of the installations at the Westlake Expo in Hangzhou, China. The event opened on June 6, 1929, lasting 137 days. There were 14,760,000 items in the exhibit with 20,000,000 visitors.
Shanghai CompanyMay 1932
Liu Jipiao moved to Shanghai and opened Da Fang (大方) Construction Company with Li Shiceng (李石曾)’s son Zongkan (宗侃). He imported one of the first European Cars, had the company name written on the side and drove important clients around.
Liu set up Da-fang Architectural Design Company in Nanjing.
Liu obtained the support and endorsement from Liu Jiwen (劉紀文) (Mayor of Nanjing) and We Daoming (魏道明) (Head of the city’s public works) Rebuilt many government official villas and city thoroughfares. Became a member of the Society of Chinese Architects (Zhongguo jianzhu xuehui) organized by the Chinese architects educated in the US. The organization quickly became the chief professional organization for Chinese architects and planners.
Liu is #10 on the list.
Photo: Circa 1935: Liu built one of our family homes in Nanjing (Yihe Lu). Third Floor was added later by a Communist General.
Liu built another family home in Guangzhou. Prior to the Sino-Japanese War, the South-West Political Commission conferred the rank of Lieutenant General and Chief Architect to Chiang K’ai Shek, President of the Republic of China. Liu closed his construction businesses in Nanjing and Shanghai and assumed his duties in Guangzhou. He was responsible for the fortification of Guangzhou against Japanese Invasion. i.e. Redesigned Humen Fortress, barracks and air raid shelters.
March 25, 1943
Gayook’s BirthMarch 25, 1943
After multiple miscarriages and a still birth of a son 10 years prior, Gayook Liou was born. My grandmother remained bedridden for nine months to carry my mother to term. Gayook was named after both her paternal grandparents. The Lious lived in one of the apartment units at Pu Yuan still located in the French Concession.
January 4, 1947
China to USAJanuary 4, 1947
Because of his position in the Kuomintang, Liu, wife and eldest daughter fled China, leaving Gaylon with family in China.
They were on a plane but one of Liu’s students whom he had helped in the past warned him that the Communists knew. He helped Liu get passage on a ship (General M.C Meigs) which left Shanghai and landed in San Francisco 2 weeks later. They traveled cross country eventually settling on the Upper East side of NYC in Yorkville.
By 1949 he knew the Communist government was in place and he could not return to China, Liu looked for work. With no work available in NYC for non-English-speaking Chinese other than restaurant or laundry, Liu invested in one of the first automated laundry mats. (Upper East Side) The family lived close by on 85th Street between 3rd and Lexington Ave. He eventually owned another one in Flushing Queens.
The family was able to get Gaylon as far as Hong Kong but could not get through the red tape to bring her to America. Grandma Liou told us that my 10 year old mother, Gayook wrote a letter to the Senator who took an interest in Gaylon’s case and helped her get to the United States.
With modernization of the farming industry, small farms like Liu’s went bankrupt unable to keep up with the production rates of larger farms.
Suzanne Liou went to work as a locker room attendant in hotel while Liu stayed home to try to salvage farm. He was forced to go on welfare for a while until they got back on their feet. Grandmother apprenticed with massage therapist and taught Liu. They both worked in hotels. Summer of ’59 the family lived and worked as on-site masseurs in Asbury Park, NJ.
Liu works as a “draftsman” under the architectural license of Sergey Padukow, 610 Main Street, Toms River, NJ.
Redesigned St. Vladamir Memorial Orthodox Church in Rova Farms, NJ and other residential and commercial buildings in southern NJ.
- November 3, 1965
- June 24, 1968
- August 25, 1969
1972 - 1983
Teaching and Exhibiting1972 - 1983
Liu and his wife demonstrated and exhibited nationwide at places like Newark Museum, Princeton University and Corning Museum. Not only was Liu commissioned by Corning to create plate designs for each Chinese Zodiac Sign. He also exhibited his porcelain art works at Corning Glass Museum, Corning, NY in 1972.
April 15, 1992
Liu Jipiao (1900-1992)April 15, 1992
He always said he was going to live until he was 92 because that was the age his father and his grandfather lived before him. Before he died he revealed to my mother his life story, how he studied in Paris, how he fled to America…
He said his wife was his rock and would not have had the strength to survive the trials they went through without her.
Gayook Wong (1943-2021)2021
Gayook Wong, eldest daughter of Liu Jipiao and Suzanne Wong passed away September 1, 2021. She was surrounded by family and friends in Los Angeles, California. She struggled with cancer for 10 years. In that time she was still able to travel and live in Paris, Mexico, Costa Rica and up and down the East Coast of the United States.