GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings
 

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

digital exhibition tour: GLADSTONE GALLERY presents an exhibition of historic works by chinese artist guo fengyi, focusing on a selection of hyper-detailed and conceptually complex scrolls that range in scale from 12 feet to nearly 30 feet in height. created by employing a meditation system associated with tai chi, these works present an in-depth survey of the artist’s practice which began during the latter portion of her life. in addition to the drawings, one of guo’s notebooks documenting her qigong regimen allows viewers a unique look at the process that afforded the artist’s therapeutic approach to artmaking. 

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings
all installation views: guo fengyi at gladstone gallery, new york, 2020
image courtesy GLADSTONE GALLERY, new york and brussels / photos by david regen

 

 

born in 1942 in xi’an, china, guo began her artistic practice later in life, and this exhibition at GLADSTONE GALLERY demonstrates a significant and radical body of work that she developed throughout her career. guo worked at a rubber factory until the age of 39, when a severe arthritis diagnosis forced her into early retirement. in order to alleviate the pain from this ailment and hoping to continue working with her hands, guo started to study qigong, a chinese system of physical exercise and breath control related to tai chi. 

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

 

 

while engaging in qigong, guo would enter a state of trance that prompted transcendent visualizations that she would then transfer onto scrolls in vibrant color and ornate detail. similar to the surrealist implementation of automatic drawing, guo’s mode of artmaking deeply connects with early modernist tactics of allowing the subconscious to inform the act of creation, and the works included in this exhibition demonstrate her formal and conceptual rigor.

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

 

 

guo’s methodical approach to figure drawing, activated by her traditional meditative practices, imaginatively visualizes unseen objects and concepts of interest to the artist, such as human organs, the underworld, and energy channels. early in her career, guo worked with readymade chinese scrolls and used primarily black and white materials as she began to formalize a signature stylistic approach to drawing. by employing these scrolls in untraditional ways, guo chose to render her fantastical subjects as she saw them, rather than adhering to any of the conventional methods prescribed for traditional artistic mediums.

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

 

 

guo’s last and most prolific series of works were created on rice paper and concentrated on different figures representative of specific locations and powerful energies. this area of focus led to the creation of lively and deeply personal portraits of close companions and anonymous characters alike, such as dragons, mythological entities, and elaborately dressed personages that embodied both humanoid and otherworldly qualities. 

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

 

 

guo’s whimsical subjects also connected to her research of i ching (book of changes in english), an ancient divination text and the oldest of the chinese classics. this text informed guo’s contemplation of and depiction of traditional chinese systems of thought, namely cosmology, divination, acupuncture energy maps, sage kings, geomancy and dynastic grave sites, all of which have become dispensable in a modernizing china. guo’s work reasserts the power of these systems, preserving cultural thought and embracing chinese folk knowledge as both a way of living and a stimulus for creativity.

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings
yamantaka, 2005 | colored ink on rice paper | 278 x 37 7/8 inches (706 x 96 cm)
courtesy GLADSTONE GALLERY, new york and brussels

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings
avalokiteshvara, undated | colored ink on xuan paper | 74 1/2 x 26 7/8 inches (189 x 68.2 cm)
image courtesy GLADSTONE GALLERY, new york and brussels

GLADSTONE GALLERY presents guo fengyi's fantastical, hyper-detailed drawings
tang dynasty princess wencheng, 2004 | colored ink on rice paper | 157 3/4 x 27 1/2 inches (400.5 x 69.8 cm)
courtesy GLADSTONE GALLERY, new york and brussels

 

 

exhibition info:

 

artist: guo fengyi
gallery: GLADSTONE GALLERY
view the exhibition online: here

 

edited by nina azzarello

 

we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more digital exhibition tours here, and project submissions from designboom readers here.

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