Living her spirituality along the paths of Qigong, it was at the dawn of her 40th birthday that Guo Fengyi began to reinterpret popular Chinese beliefs in ink and brush drawings. On rolls of rice paper, sometimes measuring up to 10 meters, entities unfold. Sometimes akin to The Pantheon, sometimes to pandemonium, they seem to float in a space-time void. These heretical scrolls were notably exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, curated by Massimiliano Gioni.
Guo Fengyi was born in Xi’an, central China, in 1942, she obtained her high school diploma in 1962 and found work in a rubber factory. However, severe bouts of arthritis forced her to give up her career at the age of thirty-nine. However, severe bouts of arthritis forced her to give up her career at the age of thirty-nine. has drawn a spectacular amount of attention since her art came to light in recent years. In the hope of alleviating her symptoms, she turned to alternative medicine and found a new spiritual path in Qi Gong.
She started experiencing visions in 1989, as a result of which she produced large numbers of drawings, first on the backs of pages from calendars, then later on rice paper. She worked with Indian ink and brushes, producing works up to five meters long, drawn with no initial plan in mind, discovering her own creation as she worked. The multitude of delicate lines forms ghostly figures, dragons, phoenixes, and faces, sometimes interwoven, smiling and serene or terrifying and monstrous. Guo creates her own path – even if the various representations and popular beliefs linked to Taoism, yi king or qi gong are sometimes underlying in her artworks.
Over the undoubtable magnetism which exudes from her pieces, we face the inevitable question linked to art brut : Is there an art form which is neither cultural or cultic ? Even Guo isn’t answering this enigmatic question but she is still offering to us her grace. Her works already featured in the Collection d’Art Brut in Lausanne and the Museum of Everything in London, has been exhibited in the Venice Biennale in 2013.
Preface : Rong Zheng
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Guo Fengyi : a chinese rhapsody, from december 10th, 2010 to january 15th, 2011.