Opening : “The Edge of Reality”: Gao Xingjian Solo Exhibition

Nobel Laureate in Literature Gao Xingjian Explores a New Realm with Brush
“Where literature reaches its limits of expressive power, that’s where painting begins.”

Gao Xingjian, the first Chinese Nobel laureate in literature, personally attended the press conference and the opening for his show The Edge of Reality: Gao Xingjian Solo Exhibition on June 29th, 2013 at Asia Art Center Taipei II in Dazhi, Taipei. Being emotionally bonded with Taiwan, Gao Xingjuan talked delightedly with enthusiastic journalists and visitors about his latest creative mind.
Gao Xingjian, born in 1940 in Ganzhou of the Jiangxi Province, is a writer, playwright, painter, photographer, and director of film and theatre. After almost a century’s wait, Gao amazed the world with being the first Chinese to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000. Moreover, in this exhibition one shall discover he is also a genius painter!
After three years, the Asia Art Center is proud to present again The Edge of Reality: Gao Xingjian’s Solo Exhibition. Rendered by water and ink, the subtle distinctions between the black, white, and gray colors, allow him to lead his viewers into an ethereal world when they close their eyes. The black silhouette resembles the viewer’s reflection, searching inward for enlightenment. Looking over the twenty pieces shown on display, Gao Xingjian recalled, “When I was 10 years old, my uncle gave me a blank sketchbook, where I started my first novel and illustration. However, it was not until I reached artistic maturity that I realized painting and literature are two completely different ways of expression.” Gao Xingjian had initially started out studying Western oil painting, but a chance encounter as Ba Jin’s translator enabled him to travel around Europe in the late 1970s. After visiting the Louvre, he discovered it was very hard for people, who grew up under the influence of Eastern culture, to master Western oil painting techniques. Later when he encountered Picasso’s ink-wash paintings, Gao Xingjian remarked, “I was rather shocked to learn that such a great artist had so little knowledge about ink-wash painting. Obviously he [Picasso] was not aware of the immensity of its possibilities!” Gao Xingjian thus decided to forsake his oil painting endeavors and to specialize in ink-wash painting. Painting is pure visual representation. When painting, the artist puts aside all linguistic thinking, refrains from reading or writing for a couple of months, and thus immerses himself completely in the ecstasy of imagination and creation.
When asked why using ink-wash on canvas, “I believe I am the first artist to do ink-wash paintings on canvas,” Gao Xingjian said. He explains that these paintings are restricted by the size of Xuan paper, which is too small and not suitable for collections in international museums. He also wants to open up new possibilities for ink-wash painting. When it comes to artistic style and content, he refers to his publication Research on the Other Aesthetics: “I depart from the traditional Chinese freehand style. The field’s depth that I wish to achieve does not come from observation with my own physical eyes, but by deepening the gaze of my spiritual vision.” Originating from his own cultural traditions, this new form of ink-wash painting by Gao Xingjian is a fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics and techniques, and is indeed a unique style!
The Asia Art Center began representing Gao Xingjian in the ’90s. Taiwan has been a significant base where this artist has published his new works and become an influential figure. The opening day on June 29th was filled with visitors and collectors from many different walks of life. The international media also had a chance to interact with the artist. Gao Xingjian has also been an old friend of Lee Duelang, director of 31-year-old Asia Art Center. Mr. Lee thinks Gao Xingjian remains the same humble person, even after winning the Nobel prize. Mr. Lee said, “Gao Xingjian is well-learned. While he receives people with a very tender and disciplined manner, one can still discern his bold, critical character. In any case, you cannot understand him completely; there’s loneliness deep down in his heart.” Gao has expressed that he will be focusing on paintings and films at this stage of his life, and that he does not intend to write any more novels. Having reached the age of 73, his life and creations have entered another new level.
The Edge of Reality: Gao Xingjian Solo Exhibition will be on view until July 28th at Asia Art Center Taipei II in Dazhi, Taipei (No. 93, Lequn 2nd Road).