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 Gu Zhinong  (1971 - )

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Lived/Active: China      Known for: figural

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Biography from Verna Glancy Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in 1971 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, painter Gu Zhinong could have chosen no better place to pursue artmaking.  (Hangzhou is located in a province that borders the East China Sea and lies 122 miles southwest of Shanghai).  Because of its stunning physical beauty and long cultural history, the city, has spawned a well-known Chinese proverb: "In heaven, there is paradise and on earth there are Hangzhou and Suzhou." Even Marco Polo described Mr. Gu's birthplace -- which surrounds a large lake and, since the 12th century, has attracted numerous artists, poets and painters searching for inspiration -- as "the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world." 

In 1994, at the age of 23, Gu Zhinong earned a degree from the Department of Oil Painting of the famous China National Academy of Art, built in the late 1920's on the bank of the city's West Lake.  This prestigious art school was co-founded by painter Lin Fengmian (1900-1991), who was educated in Paris, France in the early 1920s.  Lin Fengmian is considered to be the godfather of contemporary Chinese art and probably the most important Chinese painter and art scholar of the mid-20th century.  As is quite apparent in his most recent oil paintings, Gu Zhinong is heir to his country's increasing interest in both Western art and art history, as well as traditional Chinese art forms -- an interest that blossomed following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and China's subsequent opening to cultural dialogue with the West.  Unlike Lin Fengmian, who, because he was an artist and scholar, was tortured and jailed from 1969 to 1971 during the height of the notorious Cultural Revolution, Gu Zhinong escaped the deadly militaristic zeal that dogged China's traditional arts and intellectual scholarship during Mao's reign. 

He has been exposed to and encouraged to study the best of both classical and contemporary Eastern and Western art and thought.  This exposure to multiple art histories and cultures has provided a rich visual matrix for Mr. Gu's most recent oil painting, Trace (2004).  Awarded a gold medal in the 2004 Zhejiang Province Fine Arts Exhibition, as well as  inclusion in 2004's Tenth China National Arts Exhibition, Trace is a sophisticated example, executed in the style of realism, of the coalescence of oriental and occidental culture in today's post-industrial world.  Painted in muted, desaturated tones, Trace features a young Chinese man flanked by instantly recognizable cultural icons of ancient Eastern and Western civilizations.  Though realistic in style, the painting relies on improbable surrealistic imagery to explore philosophical concepts concerning the continuity of civilization.  To the left of the painting are the broken shards of a painted terracotta warrior, or perhaps a courtier, from the imperial Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.). Hundreds of large funerary figures, such as the one depicted in the painting, were buried along with members of China's imperial class to accompany them into the afterlife. First uncovered en masse during the 1970's in X'ian, these types of figures have been considered the "eighth wonder of the world" and continue to be unearthed in this millennium, their ancient past leaving important marks on the present day and critical clues as to how man societally functioned over 1,000 years ago.  On the right side of the painting, an elegant marble statue of a long-haired woman, whose curls cascade down her twisted torso - most likely representing a goddess of Greek mythology sculpted in the golden age of classical Greece - gazes towards both young man and Han Dynasty figure.  Upon close inspection, the viewer realizes that all three figures in the composition are actually levitating against the backdrop of a blank stone stelae.  In the center sits a post-modern Renaissance man, who gazing straightforwardly at the viewer, types on a laptop computer that seem to be hovering in space. He is dressed in ubiquitous jeans and tee-shirt, today's universal uniform of youth.  Mr. Gu's central contemporary figure is sandwiched between East and West somewhere in cyberspace, simultaneously an integral part of both and neither, representing the most recent icon to join civilization's historical continuum.

1971 Born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China Education: 1994 Graduated from the China Academy of Art, Department of Oil Painting 1994 - Present - Tutor at the Hangzhou Teachers College, Fine Art Department Exhibitions: 1988 "Steelyard" exhibited in the First China & Japan Exhibition of Oil Paintings Awarded Prize of Excellence 1992 "Shoot the Basket" exhibited in the China National Fine Arts Exhibition 1994 "Tree" and "Classmate" exhibited in the Ninth Zhejiang Province Fine Art Exhibition. "Classmate" awarded the Prize of Excellence 1994 "Classmate" selected for exhibition in the Eighth China National Fine Art Exhibition 1996 "Ground" selected for Exhibition of Oil Paintings of China and Japan 1997 Selected works exhibited in the China National Art Exhibition 1999 "Puppet" exhibited in the Tenth Zhejiang Province Fine Art Exhibition of Oil Paintings 2004 "Trace" selected for exhibition in the 11th Zhejiang Province Fine Arts Exhibition Awarded the Gold Medal 2004 "Trace" selected for exhibition in the Tenth China National Arts Exhibition

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