Capture the Moment

A Foreword on the Album of Guo Xianzhong’s Paintings

By Kong Jian (Chinese scholar, chairman of Hainan Province Writers Association)

Translated by Gary Go from Chinese

In early 1992, Guo Xianzhong, an artist from Sichuan province, arrived on Hainan Island. At the southern end of the island, which has long been known as Tian Ya Hai Jiao(the end of the earth) to Chinese people, Mr. Guo’s tall, thin figure has often been seen roaming the island’s cacti-encompassed remote beaches.

One year later in a hotel, Mr. Guo showed me over 200 samples of his artwork. I was deeply moved by what I saw, and it provided me with great warmth in the cold winter of Hainan Island.

Mr. Guo was born and raised in the beautiful province of Sichuan. He started learning traditional Chinese painting at the age of 16, and imitated many masterpieces by older generations of Chinese artists. One day, his brush could not help but paint by itself, and greedily swallowed his papers. From that point on, his own artistic life commenced.

In recent decades, his works have captured all the natural conditions and local customs across the Yangtze River, with fantastic skill and an unruly manner. His style varies greatly, as if from many different artists.

His work of the late 1980’s represented the peak of his career as an artist. It can safely be said that his crane paintings during this period are masterpieces of traditional Chinese painting.

The crane is a theme which has been depicted in traditional Chinese paintings for years. In traditional Chinese paintings, it is commonplace to see a crane as part of a scene, but it is rare to see the crane depicted as a spiritual creature as it is under Mr. Guo’s brush. Mr. Guo paints his cranes with only a few strokes but uses very thick ink, which makes his crane paintings full of spirit and energy. People who view them are surprised at how free his style appears. He combines calligraphy techniques with crane painting, which has become his unique style. To some extent, Mr. Guo’s crane paintings are the soul of his personality: unconstrained, open-minded and enthusiastic.

In 1988, Mr. Guo was invited by friends to Hainan Island. Such tropical features as a beautiful blue sky, crystal clear sea, golden beaches, sturdy cacti and attractive wild pineapples, which are full of energy and freedom, greatly impressed him. Strong sunlight grinds the shapes of all objects, turning them into bizarre and gaudy colors. Gales scatter those lively colors, turning them into rhythmic tones. Nothing artificial or obscure can be found between his strokes; instead, his earnestness can easily be sensed.

In 1992, Mr. Guo involved himself in the tropics even more deeply when he arrived on Hainan Island for the second time. In the first few months, he would often walk around windy and sunny beaches, or ride about wild fields in a jeep, absorbing the colors of the tropical scenery. After discarding many a painting he was dissatisfied with, Mr. Guo reached another peak in his career as an artist.

Wild pineapples on beaches, coconut trees under clouds, red woods at dawn, plump cacti… under Mr. Guo’s brush, all these are transformed into passionate paintings.

These paintings appear unorthodox in color and stroke, like scribbling or scrawling, but when viewed as a whole are quite harmonious. People sometimes feel his works are like a newborn baby, opening its eyes, seeing the world for the first time. Life is fully eulogized by the artist’s brush.

The fertile and fruitful lands of Hainan Island have attracted numerous artists who usually come to paint the tropical scenery in great detail. However, most artists perceive this island superficially. There is far more behind the abundance of this land, which has been sensed and expressed through Mr. Guo’s perfect artistic feeling. In his paintings, life is everywhere; tropical plants in the sun are developed into a rousing chorus under his brush, as if they were shouting out loud. Time is cruel – it destroys everything it produces. But on Hainan Island, time forces everything to show its beauty without reservation, which can be vividly viewed in Mr. Guo’s paintings. Under Mr. Guo’s brush, tropical forests washed by strong sunlight are developed into a group of abstract and bizarre colors. Life’s spirit is no longer an assumption, but a vision. This vision, when it arrives at Mr. Guo, naturally becomes a way of painting.

Mr. Guo is lettered in literature and philosophy, and he has keen insight into nature and life, therefore everyone can gain something from his work. It is fair to say that Mr. Guo has progressed traditional Chinese painting into a new stage, which remains to be recognized by people from all over the world.

2 Responses to “Capture the Moment”

  1. giuseppe says:

    Great work……….love to have some…….

  2. Tiziana says:

    Tutto bellissimo, ogni cosa nelle tue opere è in movimento, tutto è energia, trasformazione, apparizione, attimo e spiritualità naturale senza divinità.So che l’aver visto la tua arte mi aiuterà a migliorare il mio modesto percorso personale, grazie.

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