Muted Landscape | Zhen Guo Solo Exhibition
Gallery 456 is pleased to present Muted Landscape, a solo exhibition by Zhen Guo, curated by Kimberly Reinagel, on view from January 28th to February 18th, 2022. Muted Landscape is comprised of artworks by Guo that redefine traditional Chinese Landscape Ink Paintings as a rich, abstract visual language drawing on themes of identity, feminism, and environmentalism. She breaks through with new techniques, while upholding centuries-long traditions.
Zhen Guo’s practice spans painting, sculpture, textiles and new media. She has developed a body of art that, while distinctly Chinese, reflects influences and experimentations from the West. Noted critic Robert C. Morgan writes, “Guo continues… the fundamental legacy of ink painting as a source of her activity as a feminist, and as an artist politically bound to the past, present and future in equal terms as she reconstructs a forgotten history.”
The works presented in Muted Landscape are a unique representation of the natural world, at once monumental and intimate. These communicate the vastness of mountain ranges, deep valleys and wide fields along with the undulating folds of the human body. Each work is fully formed only by the participation of the viewer, and subtly enfolds references to female figure, and the history of identity, oppression, and violence at the core of every human woman.
Muted Landscape’s deeply moving, and inherently female presentation will feature a live performance by Luisa Muhr on January 28th, and on February 4th will feature original music by Francesca Ter-Berg, and an artist talk with Zhen Guo.
In recent years, my feminist art has turned to the concept of “mother” and its connection to women, men, and the world in general. There may be no daughters, sisters, or wives in our lives, but everyone has a mother, and “mother earth” is the giver and sustainer of all life. Mother and Earth are inextricably linked in tradition, philosophy, science, and our minds, just as they are in my art. Mother Earth and Human Mother (and all women) are surrounded by the destructive forces of our time.
“Muted Landscape” presents a vision of our planet that is both expansive and terrifying, a landscape as if viewed from miles high, defaced and stained by the gray color and the sheer height. Towering peaks merge with rivers, lakes, craters, and sheer walls, figurative but more abstract, losing their individual character and value. In reality, driven by population and industrial growth, unrestrained exploitation and pollution, our planet is riddled with holes and out of balance, disappearing in front of us without making a sound. Our Earth, the mother of all of us, silent as the pieces are dismembered and burned. So too, the mothers and women of this world, their bodies, their rights and their spirits, are constantly under attack. They are also told to “shut up” and their voices were muted so they can’t be heard.
Enduring over a decade of repression within the crucible of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Chinese-American Artist Zhen Guo discovered not only the crucial importance of self-reliance as a woman, but communicated the feminist ideology through every element of her practice as an artist. Formed as coal through the heavy fires of struggle and strife, Guo’s art emerged as a diamond, with a clarity of vision and ultimate truth.
Each brush stroke of Zhen Guo’s ink paintings simultaneously contains a deep well of Chinese heritage, and an inherently female perspective on modern, western society. Noted critic Robert C. Morgan writes, “Guo continues… the fundamental legacy of ink painting as a source of her activity as a feminist, and as an artist politically bound to the past, present and future in equal terms as she reconstructs a forgotten history.” The works presented in Muted Landscape are a unique representation of the natural world, at once monumental and intimate. These communicate the vastness of mountain ranges, deep valleys and wide fields along with the undulating folds of the human body. Each work is fully formed only by the participation of the viewer, and subtly enfolds references to the female figure, and the history of identity, oppression, and violence at the core of every human woman.
The mixed media elements included in many of Guo’s works of art continue to reinforce the concept that her art is steeped in a “sense of the times”. Her traditional ink paint, washed over rice paper, is partnered with modern elements such as brightly colored neon tubes with a poignant intentionality that invites each viewer to discover their own parallels within the work. We are each a culmination of the deep history of all those who came before us, the times in which we currently find ourselves and the influences that make their mark upon our lives. Love remains the root emotion from which Guo’s work springs forth, more real to her than flesh and blood, and yet intermingled with a pervasive uncertainty. It is in this that her work unequivocally embodies the human experience.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Zhen Guo was born in Shandong Province, China, and experienced the “Cultural Revolution” during her teen years. She graduated from the Chinese Painting Department of the China Academy of Art in 1982 and was hired there to teach in its Chinese Art Department.
Zhen Guo is one of the earliest explorers of ink art after the reform and opening up of China. She immigrated to the United States in 1986 and established Zhen Guo Art Studio in New York City in 1988. Guo has participated in many international art exhibitions and has long been committed to the research and exploration of contemporary feminist art.
Major auction houses such as Sotheby’s have repeatedly promoted her works. In recent years, Guo has curated and participated in: “Existence: International Women’s Art Exhibition” in Changsha, China; “Please Touch, Body Boundaries,” a large-scale exhibition at Mana Contemporary Art in the United States; “Asian Women Artists Exhibition”; at Jeonbuk Provincial Museum of Art, South Korea, and many more abroad and in the United States.
Zhen Guo now lives and works in New York City.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Kimberly Reinagel is a graduate of The Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York, with a Master’s Degree in Contemporary Art. Kimberly has curated numerous solo and group exhibitions within New York City since 2019, with a focus on female and emerging artists. Her curatorial debut “Subversive Stitch” featured artworks by eight female contemporary artists who work with textiles as their primary medium. Most recently Kimberly curated a solo exhibition for a Brooklyn-based artist titled “Viewfound”. In 2020, Kimberly established Salt Gallery, an online platform to represent emerging artists from around the world.