The Natural Way: Sculpture and Sketch Works of Guo Xiao-Rong
When it comes to sculpture, all that remains in my memory are the clay and wooden frames in sculpture class, which never seem to be clean. When I saw Guo Xiao-Rong's sculptures in the gallery, after nearly a decade from my college days, one word came to my mind - pure. Just like Ms. Guo herself, the temperament of natural, calm and refreshing is also perfectly integrated into her works.
Guo's works are pure white. White has a natural aesthetic meaning of softness, elegance, purity and serenity, which is an aesthetic orientation long sought after by the Orient. This can be seen in the poem collection "The Book of Songs", which praises the beauty of Zhuang Jiang "her fingers were like the blades of the young white-grass; her skin was like congealed ointment", and the folk saying "one white color covers a hundred faults". In terms of imagery of color, white reflects all the colors of light; in emotional cognition, white shields interferences and settles with quietness of mind. White is not pale and powerless, on the contrary, it conveys power and presence by the possibility of integrating with any kind of color – just like the powerof women, seemingly soft, but actually resilient.
Sculpture, as an artistic expression, is generally more spatially and sensorially intuitive comparing to painting. Guo’s sculptures are rounded and free of angles; the artist uses resins to shape the partial status of the body, in a minimalist manner of Brancusi. Looking inward is the flowing characteristics of body and shapes, looking outward is the solid touch of form and material. Under the theme of "birth and inheritance of life", Guo chooses to use the most basic form to express the most genuine feeling. This is also a unique artistic perception of female artists, which unconsciously conveys the power of strength in grace.
If Guo's sculptures are sensual artistic expressions born from form and abstration, then her sketches, on the contrary, are figurative and detail-oriented. Guo likes to "seek natural beauty in the laws of nature"; she uses her unique perspective and extremely delicate lines to portray the partial forms of animals, and through the visual sense of seeing the big with the small. Her work triggers infinite imagination and curiosity: what kind of animal is this? What would be the effect if it was complete? Unlike the “blank-leaving” apporach seen in estern paintings, here the artist uses partial expressions of life to illustrate diversity and divergence, similarity and difference.
In the "Armour" series, Guo chooses the "alligator" (also known as the Yangzi crocodile) as the subject and enlarged the local physical features - teeth and eyes - infinitely. “The morning fungus doesn't know the night, and the short-lived cicada doesn't know the seasons”, in the drawing the animial’s eyes seem to have traveled through thousands of years, coming from the ancient days "asking the way to heaven". Its teeth are full of the mark of the survivor, since the beginning of its birth; it is the "Way of Life" that rides on the righteousness of heaven and earth. All tangible things in nature are bound in the shell and held in time. Life is born and fades away, fades away and is born again, persistently.
Among the sketches, the black color absorbs all the colors of light, just like the vastness and expanse of the natural universe. The ancient Chinese constructed the concept of "the four directions up and down is called the universe, the past and the present is called the zeitgeist", and in nature, they are alone with the spirit of heaven and earth without transcending other creatures. "Great is said to fade, fade is said to be far, far is said to be the opposite", man and all creatures live together in the natural universe, life is with the same origin. "Nature and life" is also a profound reflection brought to us by Guo's artworks, respecting and caring, harmonizing and unifying.