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The Edge of Reality
by Asia Art Center
Location: Asia Art Center
Artist(s): GAO Xing Jian
Date: 29 Jun - 28 Jul 2013

Gao Xingjian is undoubtedly a well-rounded artist. Besides his reputed literary oeuvre, he is also known for his paintings that epitomize the notion of individuality. Before Gao Xingjian was awarded the Nobel prize in 1996, the director of Asia Art Center, Lee Duenlang, made acquaintance with his paintings and was intrigued. The more he learned about the artist the more he felt that loneliness permeating from within. Lee decided right away to work with the artist who “gave a unique sense of loneliness because he was rarely understood,” and brought back works from France to Taiwan for more exposure. This artist is especially sensitive to personal spiritual experience; he attempts to explore inward and to articulate his solitude through repetitious writing and painting. 

The title of this exhibition, “The Edge of Reality,” works to complement its Chinese counterpart “The Edge of Dreams”, which symbolically represents his state of existence. 
“The title describes my current situation of wandering between reality and illusion, and the two realms are overlapped and blurry, without a clear boundary,” 
said artist. 
Gao Xingjian also explained that before he began painting, he would close his eyes to clear his mind so that he could attain peacefulness through meditation. In the darkness, he said, there would always be some imagery that would emerge from the depths of his soul. He would envelop himself in an almost “ecstatic state" that helped him to draw freely on canvas or xuan paper, and to achieve mutual intimacy between water and ink. 

In Gao Xingjian’s paintings, the abstract landscape of black and white represents the ethereal realm of the mind, where one closes one’s eyes to “see.” It is about the light and shadow in the darkness, and about the delicate nuances of style. Gao Xingjian, who is accustomed to using Chinese brushes to paint, particularly enjoys the different fascinating expressions that brush strokes create. He believes that the spirituality and charm of the ink lies in its various styles and colors. His paintings do not have fine brushwork and are profound and captivating. The artist is also inspired by photography; he incorporates the idea of a “focal length,” to create dream-like and hazy scenarios which cannot be understood through the simple dichotomy between abstract ideas and empirical reality. Despite having spent almost thirty years in France, we can still associate his works with Zen Buddhism, a style not defined by any genre. His art truly represents the “Spirit of the East”—a contemporary interpretation of traditional ink paintings.

Courtesy of Asia Art Center

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