The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Gao Xingjian (Ganzhou, China, 1940) in 2000, in recognition of his career as author of novels, plays and essays; his most famous title is 灵山 (Soul Mountain). However, like Federico García Lorca and Rafael Alberti, Gao has a double vocation, for him image and word have always been inseparable.
He started painting oils at the age of twelve. His painting teacher, Yun Zongyin, was a recognised expert in China in oil painting, watercolours and charcoal drawing. The harshness of the Cultural Revolution and the repression of the communist regime deeply marked his life. He left China for the first time when he turned thirty-eight on a trip that took him to Paris and Italy where he had the opportunity to meet the great Western masters. Upon coming into contact with Picasso's sketches and Henri Michaux’s work made with Indian ink, he realised that Western painters had not yet discovered the true charm of the ink they used with as little skill as Chinese artists used oils. From then onwards he focused on a contemporary renewal of his native country’s ancient discipline.
It will be in Paris, his adopted city, where he develops his mature work. Gao does not repeat images, compositions or traditional techniques, but creates a personal style and artistic language, exploiting the properties provided by the ink. He uses Chinese and rice paper to create a unique texture and light, achieving nuances that rescue his painting from a simple reduction to black and white.
His painting is developed in the form of inner visions. Gao’s inks are loaded with sensuality. They praise the world of women and the power of nature influenced by his knowledge of Zen philosophy that gives white a clear predominance.
This exhibition consisting of thirty works from 1964 to 2000 begins with nudes between 1964 and 1978. In his pieces from the Eighties nature appears in the form of huge mountains, forests and plateaus. From this decade L'Hallucination (1983) and L'Univers Sauvage (1984) stand out, but the piece that marks the transition from East to West is La Nuit (1986) which captures the quiet of the night, a calm that comes from the contrast to day-time which the artist experienced in his homeland, where surveillance was extreme.
His love of music -Gao played the violin and piano as a child- is seen in the rhythm that imbues his inks in pieces like La sonate (1995) or La respiration (1999). Also standing out in pieces from the Nineties is the condensed uncertainty in La sérénité (1996), the sexuality in L'Extase or the reflection on existence in L'Eternel (1998), a piece that is two and a half metres long, surpassed in size only by L'Eclipse which is more than three and a half metres, a piece that stands out not only because of its size, but also because it concentrates Gao’s aspirations to find perfection through beauty.
Museo de Bellas Artes de La Coruña (May - June, 2002)