Gu Wenda 谷文達 (b. 1955)

Born in Shanghai in 1955, Gu Wenda graduated from Shanghai School of Arts in 1976. In 1981, he received his MFA from the China Academy of Arts where he studied classical landscape painting and continued to teach in his alma mater from 1981–87. Later in the same year in 1987, Gu moved to the USA to study at The Academy of Art College, San Francisco and started his life as an independent artist. To date, he has participated in numerous international solo exhibitions and prestigious platforms such as biennales and art fairs across the world. Gu’s work has been included and referenced in many publications and recent art history books. He currently lives and works between Shanghai and New York.

Gu’s international artistic career took off since he moved to the United States in 1987. Over the last twenty-seven years, he has been actively and extensively taking part in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including prestigious biennales, international festivals (Brussels, Los Angeles, the Hague), site-specific commissions and installations in various indoor and outdoor settings within museums, universities, corporate and private spaces.

Gu Wenda is widely recognised for his conceptual and formal alterations of Chinese character to create fake and miswritten symbols to create large scale ink paintings, installations and performances; sometimes using ink made from natural human hair. Gu’s work represents a new form of mysticism, with his installations as the temples where these mysteries can be contemplated. Gu’s artistic practice attempts to extend the boundaries of human perception, feeling, thought and expression of humanity’s deepest wishes and most powerful dreams.

Since 1981, Gu has participated in numerous international solo and group exhibitions and biennales. The countries and regions that have shown his work include China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaria, Israel, Australia, Germany, Norway, France, Russia, the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Mexico, Switzerland, Sweden, south Africa, Poland, Brazil, Canada, Turkey, Chile, Denmark, Belgium, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, Argentina and the United States. He has also been invited to lecture at various art academies, universities and institutions worldwide, including San Francisco Art Institute; Maine College of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; School of Visual Art, New York; Stanford University; Harvard University; Yale University; Cornell University; University of Chicago; Oslo National College of the Arts, Norway; Royal University College of Fine Arts, Sweden;  Minneapolis College of Art and Design; York University, Toronto; National Gallery of Australia; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and among others.

Gu Wenda was an associate professor of studio art at the University of Minnesota from 1989 to 1990 and received the title of Honorary Minnesotan from the Governor of Minnesota. In 2000, Gu became a candidate for an honorary doctorate from the Maine College of Art. He is a guest artist and adjunct faculty member of Cooper Union in New York, a panel member of the international artists residence of PS1 Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1995, a panel member of the student scholarship committee of the Chicago Art Institute in 1998, and a jurist for the Macao Arts Festival for the application of United Nations world heritage in 2003.

Gu’s work is widely collected by many international museums and public institutions, some notable ones in Asia include Shanghai Museum of Art, China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, National Museum of Art in Beijing, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Fukuoka Art Museum Japan. In Europe, they include the British Museum, Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Royal Hapsburg Collection Germany, Origo Foundation in Switzerland, Olenska Foundation in Geneva, the Uli Sigg Collection in Geneva; in the USA, they include San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Asian Art Museum San Francisco, Museum of Modern Art New York, Guggenheim Museum New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Denver Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Seattle Art Museum, University of Princeton and the Smith College Museum of Art.


  • 1976 | Shanghai School of Arts And Crafts, Shanghai, China
  • 1981 | MFA National Academy of Arts, Hangzhou and Shanghai, China
  • Selected Solo Exhibitions
  • 2017 | Gu Wenda: Journey to the West, Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum (M21), Shanghai, China
  • 2014 | Gu Wenda, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
  • 2010 | He Xiangning Museum, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen, China
  • 2006 | Jiang Su Museum, Nanjing, China / He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China / Elaine L Jacob Art Gallery, Wayne State University / Detroit, MI Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong / Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / NY Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO / Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy / California State University, Fullerton, CA China Institute, New York, NY
  • 2004 | Forest of Stone Steles: Retranslation & Rewriting Tang Poetry, Hong Kong Performing Arts Center, Asia Cultural Cooperation Forum, Hong Kong / Wenda Gu: Middle Kingdom To Biological Millennium, Institute Of Contemporary Art At Maine College of Art, Maine, USA, Bates College, Maine, USA / Wenda Gu’s Wedding Life #6, An Art Performance, Bates College, Maine, USA / Wenda Gu’s Phrase Neon Project ‘Fu Lai Jia Mo’, Salvatore Ferragamo, New York, USA
  • 2003 | Wenda Gu: From Middle Kingdom To Biological Millennium, University of North Texas, USA, Kansas Art Institute, Kansas City, Kansas, USA
  • 2001 | Translation & Intersection: Wenda Gu’s New Installations, National Gallery Of Australia, Canberra, Australia / Tug of War, An Art Performance, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia / Wenda Gu’s Wedding Life: Germany, An Art Performance, The House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany
  • 2000 | United Nations: Great Wall Of The Millennium, New York State University, Buffalo, New York / Wenda Gu’s Wedding Life: Hong Kong, An Art Performance Hong Kong Museum Of Art, Hong Kong
  • 1999 | United Nations: Babel Of The Millennium, San Francisco Museum of Modern  Art, San Francisco, CA / Wenda Gu’s Wedding Life: America, An Art Performance, Asian Art Museum Of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
  • 1998 | United Nations-Vancouver Monument: The Metamorphosis, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University Of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada / Confucius Diary, An Art Performance, Downtown Vancouver, Canada
  • 1997 | United Nations-Hong Kong Monument: The Historical Clash, Made for Hong Kong Handover 1997, Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong
  • 1996 | United Nations-Us Monument #2: Dreamerica Steinbaum, Krauss Gallery, New York, NY / United Nations-Britain Monumnet: The Maze, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, Camerawork, London, UK
  • 1995 | Enigma Beyond Joy & Sin, Alternative Museum, New York, NY / United Nations-Us Monument #1: Post- Cmoellotniinaglpiostm, Space Untitled Gallery, New York, NY / The Enigma Of Blood, Khan Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1994 | Enigma Beyond Joy & Sin, The University of Rhode Island, RI, Berlin Shafire Gallery, New York, NY / United Nations-Italy Monument: God & Children, Enrico Gariboldi Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy
  • 1993 | The Mythos Of Lost Dynasties, Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong
  • 1992 | Enrico Gariboldi Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy Wallace Anderson Gallery, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA
  • 1990 | Two Thousand National Deaths, Hatley Martin Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 1987 | University Art Gallery, York University, Toronto, Canada, Vangtze Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • 1986 | Artist Gallery, Xi’an, China

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2020 | Shanghai Waves: Historical Archives and Works of Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China / The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL / A Botanical Garden at Hanart, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, New York, NY
  • 2018 | Fuck Off Generation: Chinese Art in The Post-Mao Era Part II: Ethan Cohen Gallery, New York, NY / Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, Long Museum, Shanghai, China / Clouds Stretching for a Thousand Miles” Ink in Asian Art, Asia Society and Museum, New York, NY
  • 2017 | Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Guggenheim, New York, NY / Thinking Ink: Improvisations on Cultural Criteria, Gajah Gallery, Singapore
  • 2016 | ShanShui Within, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China Envision” Sculptures @the Garden City, Singapore
  • 2015 | Art Basel in Hong Kong 2015, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, New Ways of Seeing: Beyond Culture, Dorsky Gallery, Long Island City, NY
  • 2014 | Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong Flow: Ink Innovators, Ethan Cohen Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2013 | Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY / Gu Wenda: Central Park, Chambers Fine Art, New York, NY Don’t Be Shy, Don’t Hold Back, SF MoMA, San Francisco, CA / Ink Performances, Iris &. B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • 2011 | Su Zhiguang: Drift, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) Beijing, Beijing, China
  • 2010 | Calligraffiti: Writing in Contemporary Chinese and Latino Art, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA
  • 2009 | Recompositions, Xin Dong Cheng Space for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China / Asian Ink Masters, Ethan Cohen Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2004 | Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition At National Gallery Of Malaysia Contemporary Chinese Painting, Art Museum, Wooster College, Wooster, OH / Contemporary Chinese Painting, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
  • 2003 | United Nations World Heritage, Macau Tower, Macau / Radical Line, Fine Arts Galleries, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH / United Nations World Heritage, Nanjing Museum Of Art, China, National Gallery, Beijing, China
  • 2002 | New Way Of Tea, Asia Society And Museum, New York, NY / The Nomad Trilogy: Tea, A Stage Design For Yin Mei’s Solo, Dance, Asia Society, New York, NY
  • 2001 | Power Of Word, Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York / 20 Years Of China Contemporary Ink Paintings, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China / Words Vs. Meaning, University of Ohio, Athens, OH
  • 2000 | United Nations: Great Wall Of The Millennium, New York State University, Buffalo, NY / Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK / Power Of The Word, Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College, Grinnell IA / Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan / Conceptualist Art: Points Of Origin 1950s-1980s, Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
  • 1999 | Biennale Of Asian Contemporary Art, Museum Of Contemporary Art, Genova, Italy / Power Of Word, Taiwan Museum Of Art, Taichung, Taiwan / South East Asia Letter Art, Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, Korea / Conceptualist Art: Points Of Origin 1950s-1980s, Queens Museum Of Arts, Queens, New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • 1998 | Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, NY / First Shenzhen Ink Painting Biennale, Guanshanyui Art Museum, Shenzhen, China / Art Beatus Gallery, Vancouver, Canada / Asian American Artists: Cross-Cultural Voices, University Art Gallery Staller Center For The Arts, State University Of New York, Stony Brook, NY
  • 1996 | Interpol, Center For Contemporary Art & Architecture, Brooklyn, NY Contemporary Art Center Of Moscow, Stockholm, Sweden / Scratch, Thread Waxing Space, New York, NY
  • 1995 | New Art In China, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada / Twentieth Century Chinese Painting: Tradition & Innovation, Hong Kong Museum Of Art, Hong Kong / Steinbaum Krauss Gallery, New York, NY / 5th Construction In Process, Mitzpe Ramon Desert, Israel
  • 1994 | New Art In China, Art Gallery Of Western Australia, Perth, Australia / Heart Of Darkness, The Kroller-Muller Museum, The Netherlands / Art Omi, New York, Ghent, NY
  • 1993 | Silent Energy, Modern Art Museum, Oxford, UK / Fragmented Memory, Wexner Center For The Arts, Columbus, OH / Mao Goes Pop, Museum Of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
  • 1991 | New York Diary-25 Different Things, MoMAPs1 Museum, Long Island City, New York / Vanishing 36 Pigment Golden Sections, A Permanent Land Art, Museum City Project, Fukuoka, Japan / Exceptional Passage-China Contemporary Art, Art Gallery, Altium, Fukuoka, Japan
  • 1990 | De-, A Permanent Land Art Project, France
  • 1989 | No U Turn-China Avant-Garde, China National Art Museum, Beijing, China / Blackness, Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong / Blackness, Hanart Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan / Neo-Tradition, National Museum of Decorative Arts/Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, Trondheim, Norway / 9th Annual Birren, Stamford Art Association (SAA) Gallery, Stamford, CT
  • 1988 | Scripta Manent, La Gleris Dea Arts Lavalin, Montreal, Canada 13th International Biennale Tapestry, Musee Cantonal Des Beaus- Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1985 | Selected Contemporary Ink Painting From China, Japan National Art Exhibition Of Sports, China National Art Museum, Beijing, China / Neo-Ink Painting Invitational Of China, Wuhan Exhibition Center, Wuhan, China
  • 1979 | Shanghai Art Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China


  • 2004 | “Wenda Gu – Art From the Middle Kingdom To Biological Millennium” Won the Publications Second Award Of The American Museum Association, USA / “Wenda Gu – Art From the Middle Kingdom To Biological Millennium” Won The Publications Design Award Of The New England Museum Association, USA / The Award Of Art Document Magazine, China
  • 1997 | Grant of The Pollack-Krasner Foundation, New York City, USA
  • 1987 | The Canada Council For Visiting Foreign Artists, Toronto, Canada / Excellent Writing, Art Trend, China / Second Prize of Calligraphy & Seal Carving, China National Museum Art Museum, Beijing, China
  • 1986 | Excellent Work, 6th National Art Exhibition of China, China National Art Museum, Beijing, China
  • 1985 | Second Prize of China National Art Exhibition of Sports, China National Art Museum, Beijing, China

For the artist’s full cv, please contact the gallery at

Images of artworks

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