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Gu Xiong: China Diary

Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver
Oct 4, 2001 - Oct 27, 2001

Ice Coffin Store - Mao & Audrey (2001),

Gu Xiong is a multi-media artist born in Chongquing, Sichuan in the People's Republic of China. Under conditions of near-slavery and poverty, Xiong spent early years as a field worker in the remote countryside. He later expressed the indelible impressions of this experience through a number of wood-block prints.

After the Cultural Revolution of 1978, Xiong was able to complete a B.A. and an M.F.A. in printmaking and begin teaching. He was exposed to Western art during an exchange program at Banff, and eventually fled China in 1989. Xiong has since made his home in Vancouver, where he works as a technical advisor in University of B.C.'s Department of Fine Art.

The images in "China Diary" were selected from 45 rolls of film taken last summer on a trip back to his homeland. Here Xiong revisited sites of his personal history. In these photographs it is almost as if he has caught two Chinas: the occupied China of the Revolution and the one of today. Yet never are the two fully integrated. A parallel Western universe of Starbucks and Kodak infiltrates scenes of traditional Chinese products, stores and landscapes. The juxtaposition is often incongruous and unsettling, both real and surreal, much like Gu Xiong's two lives must be.

© Mia Johnson