English 中文

Biography: Gu Gan

The art of Chinese characters is the essence of Chinese national culture and the basic carrier of the nation’s soul. The art of Chinese characters is an oriental abstract art where imagery remains, but matter is removed. The art of Chinese characters is a Chinese art of imagery. Imagery is the soul of traditional Chinese art and what modern Chinese art pursues.

“ Gu Gan Keeping His Original Point in the Whirlpool of World’s Culture “In the ebb and flow of world culture, Gu Gan has avoided the fate of most cultural individuals – drowned out like grains of sand in the mainstream of the culture they have supported, eternally silent in dreams of self satisfaction or pain or simply intoxicated on the opium of daily life.

Gu Gan has kept his own individual perspective in this cultural whirlpool – which is particularly commendable at a time since 1980 when China has absorbed so much influence from the West. Indeed, his own ten years’ travelling in Europe have only served to increase his belief in Chinese culture, making him a shining example of the evolution of modern Chinese Calligraphy over the past twenty years.From its origins, the art of Chinese characters has evolved via a long process passing from traditional calligraphy through its more modern forms. And over its twenty-year evolution, so many of its followers have failed to brave its currents and finished as “grains of sand”, making Gu Gan’s success in reaching these shores so admirable.

Throughout his twenty year journey, the energy of Gu Gan’s intelligence has blazed a trail for his followers, notably in his works on modern Calligraphy: “The formation of Modern Calligraphy” and “ The Three Steps of Modern Calligraphy”. These two titles remain the only authoritative texts on their subject and have been published in Chinese, English and Japanese.

Gu Gan’s ten-year cultural exchange and lecturing on Chinese Modern calligraphy attracted the attention of the British Museum who has now collected six pieces of his work. Three of these in particular are valued both as fine examples of his work and modern calligraphy and also as reflections on the political and economic reforms in China over the past 20 years.

In “Mountain Destruction”, first shown in 1985, for example, Gu Gan is expressing cultural workers desire to crush and smash social reform. In “ Open, The gate of an Ancient Nation” (early 1990’s) he is showing his appreciation of China’s policy of opening up to worldwide cultural exchange. Similarly, “ The Era of Red Gold” (2000) created to greet the new century expresses Gu Gan’s joy in the reforms achieved in China over the past twenty years.So highly esteemed is the work of Modern Calligraphy’s Masters that at the British Museum exhibition of Modern Calligraphy on January 1st 2002, the then Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Mr Ma Zhengang, declared: “This is, as far as I know, the highest level exhibition of Chinese Art ever held in Britain”.And yet Gu Gan has also succeeded in taking his work into surprising places – such as on the labels of bottles of the French Wine “Mouton Rothschild” 1996 (previously designed by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Antoni Tapies).
For Gu Gan’s work has a quality that will always be sought after and have meaning… and a constancy to be forever unpredictable.
Member of the Chinese Artists Association;
First president of the China Society of modern Calligraphy and painting;
Adviser of Study of Art Chinese Characters; 
Honorary Adviser to the World’s Calligraphers Association; 
Listed in who’s who (Munich, London, New York, and Paris versions) in 1991.


Gu Gan’s Biography:

Born in Hunan Province, China Studied traditional Chinese painting at the Central Fine Arts Institute, Beijing, China.

Sent to work in a factory for ten years during the Cultural Revolution.

Editor at the People’s Literature Publishing House.

Studied painting and calligraphy with Ye Qianye, Huang Miaozi and Zhang Zhegyu.

Elected member of the Research Academy for Traditional Chinese Painting.

Won seven prizes for Nationally outstanding works of art.

Chairman of the Society of Modern Calligraphy and Painting.

Honorary Adviser of the International Calligrapher’s Society.

Lectured on Modern Calligraphy at the University of Bonn and the Fine Art Institute, Hamburg, Germany.
Present Senior Editor of the Fine Art Section of the People’s Literature Publishing House.
Member of the Chinese Fine Artists Association.
Member of Council of China Tea and Zen studies.

Selected Exhibitions:
Recent Paintings by Gu Gan, Goedhuis Contemporary, New York.

INK, Goedhuis Contemporary, New York.

Goedhuis Contemporary, New York, USA.

Goedhuis Contempoary, New York, USA.

China without borders, Goedhuis Conemporary at Sotheby’s, New York USA.

Michael Goedhuis, London, UK.

British Museum, London, UK.

History Museum, Vienna, Austria.

Museum for Far Eastern Art, Cologne, Germany.

Selected Collections:

Member of the Chinese Artists Association.
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.
British Museum, London, UK.
Museum for Far Eastern Art, Cologne, German.
Museum of the Society for the Chinese Olympic Games.
National Fine Art Museum, Beijing, China. 
The Olenska Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland.