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.
Images of artworks