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September 3 - November 8, 2020: Hall Gallery

Yidan Guo: Yidan Guo Figure Painting: From Perception to Connection

Opening reception Thursday, September 3, 2020 • 5:00-8:00pm at the Willard Arts Center in conjunction with Idaho Falls Gallery Walk.

Artist Statement

Contemporary art with an old soul flows out of my journey of many thousands of miles from my birthplace in China to my Idaho home. That passage, with its universal instincts for survival, search for happiness, and fulfillment of dreams, has grabbed and compelled my soul. It continues to inspire my work in which I set humans and creatures of nature in settings that reveal their inner story to the person who pauses to participate by reading a story in the painting.

The traditional Chinese painting techniques I inherited infuse my work. I paint on silk or traditional Xuan paper, also called rice paper. Both were invented by Chinese people, but Chinese artists have used silk for 1,000 years, even before Xuan paper was developed. Although there are other choices, my favorite support material remains silk because it carries my heritage. Silk is an old, uniquely fine fabric with a smooth texture and a slightly shiny surface. It allows me to fully express the complexity of my feelings in the application of hundreds of layers of soft colors to reach the ideal richness and depth. No matter how many whisper-thin coats of color I apply on it, silk never loses its elegance and smoothness.

In the 2000-year-old tradition of Chinese painting, I lay the foundation for my painting by stretching a piece of drawing paper on a flat wood panel and completing a pencil drawing on the paper. Then I stretch a piece of silk over the wood panel, to cover the drawing paper. Because silk is transparent, I can see through it and use the underneath drawing for my reference as I paint directly on the silk. The water-based pigments I use are traditional Asian paints made from natural materials found in plants or minerals. Chines Ink is used for the color black. Carefully handmade brushes from animal hair, such as goat, rabbit, or weasel, are adapted for a fine line and sensitive style essential to draw the elegant lines and apply the layers of soft colors central to Chinese painting.

The traditional techniques may be time consuming, but they allow me to depict the underlying characteristics forming our inner selves. Chinese art philosophy incorporates the belief that creating art is meditation, a state in which artists commune with themselves and the universe that connects all. Although this whole process of painting is time consuming, it has shaped my personality, helping me to grow more peaceful and perceptive.

As deeply as ancient Asian art influences my work, it finds a new vigor in Western masters, whether Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci or late 19th century artists John Everett Millais and John William Waterhouse. Through my art and the journey, I intend to build connections between the past and the present, the East and the West, and the human soul with nature’s other creatures, all in an effort to inspire people to live in a world with peace, hope, and love.

Sponsored by Drs Amy and Troy Brumfield, Marcella Medor, and Daniel Devasirvtham, Reception supported by KISU-FM 91.1, Your Ear to the World