Exhibitions/ Art Object

Mythos of Lost Dynasties Series—Tranquility Comes from Meditation (Primitive World, Composition of Words, and Synthesized Words)

Gu Wenda (Chinese, born 1955)
Three hanging scrolls from original set of five; ink on paper
Image (each): 9 ft. 1/2 in. × 69 in. (275.6 × 175.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Lent by Guo Zhen
Rights and Reproduction:
© Gu Wenda
Not on view
A leading figure in the New Wave experimental art movement of the 1980s, Gu sought to liberate his painting and calligraphy from traditional technical and aesthetic strictures. Among his earliest works are these three scrolls, part of an original pentad that feature characters hovering over or within surreal “splashed ink” landscapes. The central scroll, with its single invented ideograph suspended over a landscape, established the pattern for most of Gu’s later works in the Mythos of Lost Dynasties series. The full ideograph is unreadable, but the three cursive-script components (易, 申, 示) may be interpreted as the character for “unobstructed” (chang畅 畅) and that for “spirit” (shen 神). While Gu’s overriding purpose may have been to subvert the semantic function of calligraphy, his creation of a “new” symbol embodying the notion of an unfettered spirit is a powerful emblem of his wish to escape cultural stereotypes.
Signature: a: 3 seals on the painting (all at the lower left corner)
b: 1 seal on the painting (at the lower left corner)
c: 2 seals on the painting (one at the lower left corner, one along the right border)

a: Label strip: 靜觀的世界系列畫之一太朴圖一九八五年八月文達自題 (seal)
b: Label strip: 靜觀的世界系列畫之二文字的構成一九八五年八月文達自題 (seal)
c: Label strip: 靜觀的世界系列畫之三文字的綜合一九八五年八月文達自題 (seal)

All are written by Gu Wenda.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.