Gu Xiong

b. 1953, Chongqing, Sichuan
Painter, printmaker, installation artist
Gu’s formal training was delayed by the Cultural Revolution. He earned his BFA in 1982 and MFA in 1985, both from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, where he continued to teach drawing, woodcut engraving and printing until 1989, residing one year at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1986–7). In the spring of 1989, Gu was involved in the censored ‘No Return’ art exhibition in Beijing, and in the aftermath of 4 June he emigrated to Canada. He commemorated his experience at Tiananmen in ‘A Barricade of Bicycles’, which shows a mound of bicycles, apparently flattened by a tank.
In 1990 he settled in Vancouver, where he lives and teaches at the Emily Carr Institute and the University of British Columbia. Much of his work records his early experience as an immigrant, when he worked as a busboy to support himself. One series of prints shows a heap of kitchen utensils and another, crushed Coca-Cola cans; the objects reflect Gu’s feeling at the time of being a dispensable worker. In his later work Gu documents his family life in playful portraits. Recently Gu has also picked up book illustration and realistic sketching, returning to the art form that sustained him during the Cultural Revolution, when he surreptitiously filled twenty-five sketchbooks as a sent-down youth. His life and art have been featured in Audrey Mehler’s film The Yellow Pear.
YOMI BRAESTER

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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