Solitude 《幽居》- A Solo Exhibition by Gao Xingjian
Venue: iPreciation (誰先覺), 50 Cuscaden Road, HPL House #01-01, Singapore 249724
Private Preview: Jun 26, 2021 (By Invitation Only)
Exhibition Opens to Public: Jun 28 – Jul 17, 2021
Internationally acclaimed Chinese-French artist Gao Xingjian (b. 1940) is a novelist, playwright, poet, theatre and film director, painter and philosopher. He was born in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, China in 1940 and moved to Paris in 1988. In 2000, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. With his rich experience, he skillfully blends thousands of years of Chinese and Asian wisdom with European classics. iPreciation is honoured to present Solitude 《幽居》 — A Solo Exhibition by Gao Xingjian, which showcases 21 important and monumental works by Gao between 1991 – 2012.
His novels have been translated into forty languages and are widely distributed globally. More than 120 productions of his plays have been performed in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia. More than 100 painting exhibitions were held in art museums, art centres and galleries throughout Europe, Asia and the United States, of which ninety were his solo exhibitions, and more than 50 art catalogues of his paintings and photographs have been published. In the last ten years, he has produced three poetic films that integrate poetry, painting, drama, dance and music, turning film into a comprehensive art form.
Touted as ‘the modern Renaissance man’ by the 2008 Milan Arts Festival, Gao did not employ the western medium despite his training in oil painting. Gao chooses to paint solely with ink – a medium said to be close to the heart and imbued with the spirit of the painter. Despite his departure from the western medium since the 1970s, traces of oil painting still linger in his works. He often attributes his layering of several different inks to his early practice in oil.
Interestingly, while rice paper is conventionally paired with ink, Gao predominately paints ink on large canvases, as the dramatic size of these canvases offers more volume and depth. The presence of large empty spaces gives rise to a spiritual quality that is hard to miss. With just a white paper or canvas and ink of different intensities, he brilliantly introduces a spectrum of light, shade and shadow. These three elements bring forth an amorphous realm, known as the “inner vision”, that stands at the crossroads of figurative and abstraction, not bounded by the passage of time.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, it is no surprise that Gao does not paint a fixed light source in his paintings – Forms appear to glow within the darkness, while darkness emanates from the brightness. This departure from the conventional methods of painting can be seen as a visual illustration of the stream of consciousness – the blurry nature of the human mind as our thoughts surface and then quickly fading into the yonder; the flashes of life moments when we close our eyes to the reality; simply our mental state at that one particular moment which could not be narrated with words. Essentially, “painting starts where language fails,” while we may all be looking at the same piece of work, what is comprehensible is largely solitary and personal. The intimate experience of gazing at his inner vision is essentially a glimpse into our own inner vision. In the words of the artist, “The image is in you and you are in the painting.”
Apart from being a Nobel Prize winner, he has been awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (1992), Premio Letterario Feronia, Rome, Italy (2000), Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (2002), The American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award (2002), Lions Award, New York Public Library, USA (2006), La Milanesiana Award, Italy (2008), Gold Award from the European Merit Foundation, Luxembourg (2010), The gold medal of the French Renaissance (2012), and the Premio Roma, Italy (2018); He was also awarded honorary doctorates by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Marseilles-Aix in France, the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, Taiwan University, the Central University of Taiwan, Sun Yat-sen University and the National Taiwan Normal University. The Gao Xingjian Research Space was set up by the library of the University of Marseilles-Aix in France in 2018, and in 2021, the library of National Taiwan Normal University also set up the Gao Xingjian Center.
His paintings are also in the collections of important private collectors and renowned museums. In 2003, the City of Marseille, France hosted “Year of Gao Xingjian” (L’Année de Gao Xingjian), a major event where his paintings, his play “August Snow” and other artistic creations were showcased. He was also commissioned to film Silhouette/Shadow which was completed in 2006. Hong Kong later held the “Gao Xingjian Arts Festival” in 2008 to celebrate the spectacular achievements of this multi-disciplinary artist. In 2015, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the Museum of Ixelles held a double exhibition for Gao. The Museum of Ixelles held a major retrospective of his paintings, while the Royal Museums designated an exhibition room for six of his monumental paintings, which they have permanently collected. Gao is the only living international artist to have been given such an opportunity. His works could also be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Musée Guimet, Paris; Singapore Art Museum (SAM); Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) and The Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG).
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