Guo Fengyi: To See from a Distance, will be the first major institutional exhibition of the work of Guo Fengyi (b. China, 1942; d. 2010) in the United States. The exhibition will feature works from all periods of her compact yet fruitful career, including drawings executed on the backs of book and calendar pages and on cloth, as well as small- and large-scale drawings on rice paper scrolls. The exhibition will also feature sketchbooks, notebooks, and archival materials that provide context for a drawing vocabulary that osscilates between the whimsical, the systematic, and the wildly imaginative. Occupying two floors of The Drawing Center—the Drawing Room and The Lab—the exhibition will present the expanse of a career that was highly focused but at the same time inclusive of a variety of interests and obsessions, including Chinese medicine, ancient Chinese history, and a deeply personal spirituality.
Guo Fengyi began her artistic career in the late 1980s after quitting her administrative job in a chemical fertilizer factory due to severe arthritis. To ease her pain, she started to practice qigong—a Chinese spiritual healing practice that combines physical exercise, breathing, and meditation with martial arts. While practicing, Guo would enter a hallucinatory state that produced visions of characters such as dragons, mythological creatures, and ornately dressed humanoids. These became the subjects of her intricate ink drawings—cosmic diagrams that reference Chinese mythology, traditional medicine, and the philosophy of the I Ching.
Organized by Rosario Güiraldes, Assistant Curator, and Laura Hoptman, Executive Director.
Image: Guo Fengyi, Fetus , 1989. Colored ink on calendar paper, 31 5/16 x 21 inches (99.7 x 73 cm). Courtesy of Long March Space.