Lives and Works: New York
Gu Wenda graduated from the Shanghai School of Arts in 1976. In 1981 he received his M.F.A. from the China Academy of Arts where he studied under the classical landscape painting master, Lu Yanshao. He went on to teach at the China Academy from 1981 to 1987.
Gu Wenda's first exhibition was held in Xian in the mid-1980s. The exhibition included the first examples of the artist's trademark invented calligraphic Chinese characters. The show electrified the art community and ever since then Gu Wenda has been recognized as the founder of conceptual ink art in China.
In 1987 Gu Wenda received the award of the Canada Council for the Arts Visiting Foreign Artists Program and had his first overseas exhibition at York University in Canada. Later in the same year he moved to the USA and began life as a full-time artist.
Today, Gu Wenda lives between his studios in New York and Shanghai. His work continues to be inspired by his own Asian heritage and his experiences in the world beyond China. Since 1981 Gu Wenda has participated in numerous international solo and group exhibitions and biennales. In 2002 Gu created an installation of 188 flags measuring 7600 x 800cm at the entry hall of the Singapore Esplanade Theaters on the Bay as part of his United Nations Project. The flags were hung from the ceiling of the hall and they were made of human hair collected from all over the world. The intention was in not only to represent the 188 nations of the world, but also to emphasize the immense global, biological, geological and cultural transitions that are taking place in modern society. At the time of its installation on the Esplanade, the United Nations Project sparked much controversy in Singapore over its material and artistic interpretation. Since then the artist has gone on to create a very significant body of work that is both personal and political, local and global, contemporary and timeless.
Gu Wenda's art has been collected by various public art institutions, including: the Shanghai Museum of Art, Shanghai; China National Art Museum, Beijing; The British Museum, London; Canada Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Hong Kong Museum of Art; Royal Hapsburg Collection, Germany; Kent and Vicki Logan Art Foundation, San Francisco; Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; Deste Foundation, Greece; Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Seattle Art Museum; Asia Society and Museum, Hong Kong; Denver Museum of Art, Colorado; Olenska Foundation, Geneva; OCT Contemporary Art Terminal of He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and many more.
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