Zheng Guogu
Zheng Guogu was born in Yangjiang, Guangdong province in China. He graduated from the Printmaking Department of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1992. Zheng Guogu is a conceptual Chinese artist who emerged in the 1990s amid the profound shifts of China’s opening to a globalized world. Working with photography, calligraphy, painting, video and installation, Zheng revamps the local culture of his hometown Yangjiang and New China against the contexts and trends of global contemporary art. Zheng is also a member of Yangjiang Group, an art collective founded in 2002 in Yangjiang. Zheng Guogu is one among a growing number of postmodern artists who have been reacting to the rapid shifts taking place in China over the past ten years by giving artistic shape to the phases of social and economic transformation. What distinguishes him is his commitment to the local culture of his hometown and his role in directing attention to it, while engaging with trends in global contemporary art. The international art world has fallen in love with contemporary Chinese art, and somehow Zheng Guogu, although often included in group exhibitions in Asia and Europe, has not been singled out often enough. He juggles fact with fiction or myth, while controlling the entry points to his community for visitors from the art world, who make the trek to visit him in the small town where he lives and work.
The exhibitions he has participated in include Spirit Lingers with Dust (Vitamine Gallery, Guangzhou, China, 2012); The First Xinjiang Contemporary Art Biennial (Xinjiang Exhibition Center, China, 2012); Frieze Art Fair (London, England, 2013); The 5th Auckland Triennial (Auckland University, New Zealand, 2013); Images of Magnetic Resonance (Tang Contemporary Art Center, China, 2014); Parallel Universes (Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2014); Tales of Our Time (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, USA, 2016); Where Energy Inhabits? (Chantal Crousel Gallery, France, 2016).
To Zheng Guogu, if semiotics can be taken one step further, in order to come to grips with traditional Chinese culture and thereby establish a new energetics, a novel form of energy related contemporary art may thus appear — which is the most pressing issue that artists are left to solve. From semiotics to energetics, what must be penetrated is the truly perceptible system of bodily energy. This energetics would allow us to break through the current paradigm of Western contemporary art, to simplify the transitional process of developing ideas and concepts, and to rouse the second system hidden within our body to form an entirely new set of interpretations. The installation Spiritual Tour in the Pure Garden (p208) is an experiment framed within a long-term project of the artist’s. It includes sculpted words and painted, illusive text. Hidden behind these forms of writing, according to the artist, there is a vibrating magnetic field devoid of either words or shapes, a world invisible to the naked eye. The work makes use of language and expressions from popular culture that have grown fashionable online, while employ-ing marble to build a sculpture park, a ‘garden of writing’ made available for people’s leisure and entertainment. In this ‘garden,’ like in any other, one may walk around to appreciate various sights and sceneries; there are no plum blossoms, orchids, bamboos or chrysanthemums (the four noble plants in traditional literati culture) anywhere in sight — instead, the garden is brimming with the ambience of our secular world.
Work Exhibited