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Guo Fengyi (1942–2010, Xi’an, China) is a self-trained female artist whose artistic practice articulates a particular journey of spiritual and metaphysical significance, belonging to an older generation whose embrace of Chinese folk culture imparts a unique knowledge of history, myth and mystery. Her works on paper are composed of finely controlled brushwork that blend and weave into a composition of lustrous images; suggestions of both human figure and otherworldly beings.
Guo Fengyi began practicing Qigong (a traditional Chinese health maintenance practice that cultivates the qi energy within the body) as a way to alleviate illness. Accompanying her ever-deepening study into the philosophies of mysticism, she began having powerful visions that she felt compelled to give form to through drawing, as a way to adjust the balance between her body and her spiritual world. The subject matter of her works, as well as the concepts and physical structures she uses, comes from traditional Chinese systems of thought; cosmology, acupuncture energy maps, divination, sage kings, geomancy and dynastic grave sites—all of which have become dispensable in a modernizing China. Through her works, Guo Fengyi acts as a convergence point of traditional and contemporary thought, preserving cultural memories hidden deep within Chinese society. Through the physical act of drawing, Guo Fengyi charges the events of today’s world with a profound significance, both as an act of creativity as well as an act of everyday life.
Guo Fengyi’s first foray into the contemporary art world was her participation in the 2002 Long March Project—A Walking Visual Display, in which she produced site specific works at Lugu Lake, Yunnan Province, China, and collaborated with American artist Judy Chicago.