中文
Galleria Continua
San Gimignano
Beijing
Les Moulins
Habana
Roma

B.1962, Beijing, China


An outsider, one of the most important Chinese figure to have started as a self-taught artist. Gu Dexin was certainly one of the very first in China to experiment with the different nature of materials, organic and non-organic, fascinating and repellent at the same time, his use of material have marked part of contemporary Chinese research for the site-specific. Gu’s language is full of imagination. The works are left free to celebrate their irrepressible, playful and unlimited will to live, which if at first seems to be about a naive and uncontaminated world, it represents instead philosophical and practical themes of real life, analysing taboos and political and social situations of contemporary China brought to the absurd.

Gu Dexin’s awareness of the limited nature of verbal language makes him an extremely silent and intelligently sarcastic person, elements that are  deeply reflected in his works.

In 1989, he was among three Chinese artists included in the epochal exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre” at the Centre Pompidou, which was the first international display of contemporary art from China. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, he responded to invitations to participate in a long wave of “China shows” with installations of fruit, meat, and plastic that consciously refused to engage with the symbolic legacies of Socialism.

Gu disliked the idea of imposing a given reading on his viewers therefore he always titled his works first with serial numbers, and later simply with the date on which the works were completed.

Elements and sequences that appear in his earliest work recur throughout his oeuvre— apples and sides of meat first depicted in paintings resurface later as real objects in installations. His ultimate decision to end his career and return to “normal” life in the same Beijing residential compound where he grew up and made nearly all of the work has been read by many commentators as less as a rejection of art than a protest to society.

Gu left art for good in June 2009 after opening his last solo show at Galleria Continua / Beijing.

2007-01-13

2007

Installation

bananas, cast iron, marble

variable dimensions

unique work


The choice of using perishable materials, such as meat, flowers and fruits, reflects Gu Dexin’s deep-rooted firm opinion towards human beliefs which he deems selfdeceptive.

Gu’s works bear no title, he simply adopts the time of when the installation is completed and the work begins its process of decay and transformation, as a designation in order to emphasise the ephemeral nature of the work. In the exhibition “2007-01-13” held in San Gimignano, Italy, and in the exhibition “2006-09-02” held at Le Moulin, France, he displayed, bananas and apples, fruits that have strong sexual and sin-related implications, which were left to decay or to be consumed and taken away by visitors inside the gallery spaces for more than two months.

2007-01-13

2007

photo diptych, marble column, cast iron vase

diptych: 125 x 151 cm each; 49,2 x 59,5 inch

column: 50 x 50 x 85 h cm; 19,7 x 19,7 x 33,5 inch

vase: Ø 80 x 75 h cm; Ø 31,5 x 29,5 h inch | 47 x 47 cm base; 18,5 x 18,5 inch

Ed. 10

2006-09-02

2006

Installation. 5 tons of apples, plaster walls,

bulldozer

variable dimensions

unique work

The choice of using perishable materials, such as meat, flowers and fruits, reflects Gu Dexin’s deep-rooted firm opinion towards human beliefs which he deems selfdeceptive.

Gu’s works bear no title, he simply adopts the time of when the installation is completed and the work begins its process of decay and transformation, as a designation in order to emphasise the ephemeral nature of the work. In the exhibition “2007-01-13” held in San Gimignano, Italy, and in the exhibition “2006-09-02” held at Le Moulin, France, he displayed, bananas and apples, fruits that have strong sexual and sin-related implications, which were left to decay or to be consumed and taken away by visitors inside the gallery spaces for more than two months.

2006-09-02

2006

marble, metal ware, 9 framed photographs

diptych 73 x 73 cm each; 28,7 x 28,7 inch | Base: 50 x 50 x 85 h cm; 19,7 x 19,7 x 33,5 inch

Ed. 10 + 2 AP

2009-05-02

2009

5 wooden panels, red paint

200 x 109 cm each; 78,7 x 42,9 inch each

unique work

Since the early 1980s, the explicit symbolism in Gu Dexin's work has disappeared in favour of material characteristics, be it clay, industrial plastic, meat or fruit. As mentioned above Gu disliked the idea of imposing a given reading on his viewers therefore he always titled his works first with serial numbers, and later simply with the date on which the works were completed. Thus avoiding any involvement and influence on the observer. A member of the New Wave movement in the 1980s and a key figure in early Chinese conceptualism groups, he was a fundamental part of the evolution of Chinese contemporary art. His sincerity and frankness in his expressive and critical choices reveal the power and the ideological mechanisms of the political, social and cultural environment in which he lives, as well as the same mechanisms present throughout the world, such as corruption. On May 2nd 2009, Gu presented a new work in our Beijing gallery space within the 798 Art District, whose title was, as usual, the date of its completion 2009-05-02. 

To cover the windows of the "old factory" old televisions were installed, each of which transmitted sequences of white clouds on a cobalt blue sky, passing clouds whose movement had been forcibly accelerated to establish the inexorably fast passing of time. In the center of the gallery floor was installed a concrete platform with only one sentence written: "we can still ascend to heaven". Along the entire perimeter of the gallery, a very long frieze surrounds the rectangular space, a group of panels with eleven sentences written in Songti characters of the same red colour used on official posters and on the walls of government buildings. The text, written without interruptions or punctuation, repeats itself incessantly like a mantra: “We have killed people we have killed men we have killed women we have killed old people we have killed children we have eaten people we have eaten hearts we have eaten human brains we have beaten people we have beaten people blind we have beaten open people’s faces.” 


On this occasion Gu announced that this would have been his last work of art. From then on, Gu has completely disappeared from the art world, because art, in his opinion, had become an accomplice of a political, cultural and moral system that he didn't want to approve. In doing so Gu has probably created a work without boundaries of time and space, a work that will remain for eternity.