Contemporary Chinese artist Wenda Gu explains how he uses poems from the Tang Dynasty, Chinese calligraphy and philosophy as tools to explore national and cultural identities and traditions.
Considered one of the pioneers of Chinese contemporary art, Wenda Gu (b. 1955, Shanghai, China) is an internationally recognised artist. In the early to mid 1980s, he challenged the establishment and influenced an entire generation of artists in China with a series of provocative ink paintings that employed fake or pseudo Chinese characters.
“For me language … is a symbol of the culture [that created it] and it is a way [for me] to maintain Chinese traditions and calligraphy. Within many cultural issues there are political issues. Can language [lead to] war? … For me, language represents a culture, just as writing does. My installations [present] a new way of dealing with language by using material [taken from the human body] instead of painting and writing with ink, a pencil or a brush. [This bodily material and culture are connected] to the concept of the body and modern developments in science such as genetic research” said Wenda at artradarjournal.com.
Wenda really don’t visit galleries and museums, he usually try to observe what’s happening in other fields like science, architecture, literature and philosophy, and try to avoid influence from fields similar to his own.
”After thirty years I get bored looking at the same thing. Earlier, I was influenced by philosophy and Marcel Duchamp. Later in my career I was influenced by conceptual art, Minimalism and artists working in the fine arts. But most of my inspiration comes from fields other than art. I have always believed that artistic knowledge and inspiration should come from my daily life; artistic influence is secondary and less essential. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any artistic influence in my art practice. I purposely avoided artistic influence and this became habit”.