Wenda Gu: From Middle Kingdom to Biological Millennium

July—September, 2004

Click Here to Purchase Exhibition Catalog

Internationally renowned artist Wenda Gu will travel to the ICA at MECA&D to create an original installation focusing on the relationship between China and the West, past and present. Born in China and currently based in New York, Gu compels consciousness of cultural misunderstandings and ultimate likenesses through shockingly beautiful and unexpected forms, materials and juxtapositions. Gu works with words, languages, human hair, glue, calligraphy, and stone carving as some of the components of his large-scale installations. His intelligence, humanity, and dedication to global discourse are inspiring, as is the vast conceptual nature of his works. The artist will travel to UNT to work with students to complete and install the original project, and to present a celebratory opening performance piece.

From middle kingdom to biological millennium, consisting of six installations, will feature truly unique and thought provoking art by the renowned contemporary artist Wenda Gu. This artist’s special attention to setting and context will transform the gallery into a forest of stones, a sacred space, and a meeting of humanity and culture.

Born in Shanghai in 1955, Wenda Gu is a graduate of the Shanghai School of Arts and the China Academy of Art. Although trained as a traditional landscape painter, Gu rebelled against the canons of Chinese art. In 1987, he left China for the United States in search of greater artistic freedom. This move introduced Gu to such new sources of concern and inspiration as an increasingly globalized culture and cultural mistranslations. By continuing to use and rework traditional Chinese media, such as calligraphy, ink painting, and carving to express these ideas, Gu breathes new life into these old art forms and creates striking statements about life and culture.

A visitor to this exhibition will encounter many of the major works that have defined Wenda Gu’s reputation as a creative and dynamic artist. This includes the latest addition to his united nations series, an ongoing, global art project. Entitled united nations 7561 kilometers (4698 miles), this piece uses human hair to create a large temple that viewers may enter. Another work debuting in this exhibition is forest of stone steles-retranslation & rewriting of tang poetry. Six 1_-ton stone tablets, carved with the original Chinese versions of Tang poetry, along with translations, give this installation a striking physical presence.

Small altar-like installations of Gu’s recent ink alchemy (1999-200), tea alchemy (2002), united genes (1995) and enigma of birth (1993) projects, along with video documentation presented on tiny TV monitors built into black wood presentation tables, will complete the exhibition.

From middle kingdom to biological millennium will open at the University of North Texas Art Gallery in January 2003, travel to Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute in June 2003, and then to Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design for exhibition July through September 2004. A comprehensive catalog, the first book devoted to the work of Wenda Gu, will be published by M.I.T. Press in spring 2003.