Wenda Gu (Chinese, b.1955) is one of the most celebrated avant-garde artists who emerged from China in the late 1980s. He studied traditional Chinese landscape painting under master Lu Yanshao (1909–1993) at China Academy of Arts, and taught there after his graduation in 1981. Embracing the Western New Wave and avant-garde movements, Wenda felt they could lead to the creation of specifically-Chinese avant-garde art. In 1984, his early series Lost Dynasties astonished the traditional Chinese art community when they were exhibited at the Neo-Ink Painting Invitational of China. Later, Wenda developed a bibliography of invented Chinese characters by deconstructing the existing ones, and then misplacing the various parts to create new and meaningless words. This series of works on paper and installations, Pseudo, was to be presented to the public in Wenda’s first solo exhibition in 1986, but it was closed down by the government just before the opening. Nevertheless, these early experiments are regarded as the beginning of Conceptual Ink Art in China, and the artist was acclaimed by the renowned art historian Dr. Peter Selz, as arguably the most original and authentic artist to emerge in China since the revolution.” In 1987, Wenda moved to the United States and changed his medium to materials related to human body, with the intention of celebrating the physical origins of life, and to promote universal accord. His 1989 solo exhibition Oedipus Refound, showing an installation of tampons and sanitary napkins from 60 women from various countries, caused public outrage. Another installation series, United Nations, producing works from human hair he had collected from more than one million people from all over the world, appeared on the cover of Art US, making Wenda the first Chinese artist to be featured in this magazine. He now lives and works in New York.

Timeline

1955
Born in Shanghai, China
1976
Graduated from Shanghai School of Arts, China
1981
M.F.A. from the China Academy of Art under the classical landscape-painting master, Lu Yanshao
1981–1987
Taught at the China Academy of Art, China
1981–1987
Taught Chinese Classical Painting
1989–1990
Associate professor of studio art at the University of Minnesota. He has been invited to lecture at various art academies, universities in Norway, Sweden, and the United States. He was a guest professor at Cooper Union in New York, USA.
Second prize of the National Calligraphy Exhibition, China
Second prize from the China Art Exhibition of Sports, Canada Council for Foreign Visiting
The Pollock-Krasner Foundation in the USA

Exhibitions

2010
Ink Art Retrospective show, He Xiangning Art Museum, OCT HUA Museum and OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen, China (solo)
2008
Design redefined, Contrasts Gallery, Shanghai
2007
‘Forest of Stone Steles And United Nations : We are Fortunate Animals’ John Museum Of Art, NYC, USA (solo)
2007
'85 New Wave: the birth of Chinese contemporary art’, Ullens foundation, UCCLA, Pekin, China
2007
Made in China, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark
2006
‘Brush and Ink: The Chinese art of Writing’, Metropolitan Museum of Art of New-York, USA
2006
Jiang Su Museum, Nanjing, China (solo)
2006
He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China (solo)
2006
Art Gallery, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA (solo)
2006
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, China (solo)
2006
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (solo)
2006
Denver Art Museum, Denver, USA (solo)
2006
Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy (solo)
2006
California State University at Fullerton, USA (solo)
2006
China Institute, New York City (solo)
2005
INK, Goedhuis Contemporary, New York
2004
Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh, Penn, USA
2004
4th Shenzhen International Ink Painting Biennale, Shenzhen Museum of Art, China
2004
Exhibition at Bard College, USA
2004
‘Working in Brooklyn’, Brooklyn Museum of Art, USA
2004
Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition at National Gallery of Malaysia, Malaysia
2004
‘Contemporary Chinese Painting’, Art Museum, Wooster College, Ohio, USA
2004
‘Contemporary Chinese Painting’, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA
2004
‘20th Anniversary Exhibition of Hanart Gallery’, Celebration of at Hong Kong Arts Center, China
2004
Exhibition at Bucknell College, USA
2004
Gettysburg College, USA
2004
‘Ink Painting Collection of Shanghai Art Museum’, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2004
Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh, Penn, USA
2003
Gu Wenda: from Middle Kingdom to Biological Millennium, University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Maine, USA
2002
First Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
2002
‘Site - Sight,’ Singapore Arts Festival, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore
2002
‘New Way of Tea,’ Asia Society and Museum, New York, NY
2002
National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Republic of Korea
2001
‘Intersections and Translations,’ National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
2001
‘Translated Acts - South East Asia Performance Art,’ Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY
2001
‘Second Biennale of Asian Contemporary Art,’ Museum of Contemporary Art, Genova, Italy
2001
Ink Alchemy Number One, Enrico Navarra Gallery, Paris, France
2001
‘Re: Duchamp,’ 49th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
2000
‘Inside Out: Chinese Art,’ National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
2000
‘Conceptualist Art: Points of Origin 1950s-1980s,’ Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
2000
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
1999
‘Babel of the Millennium,’ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
1999
‘Power of Word,’ Taiwan Museum of Art, Taizhong, Taiwan
1998
‘Inside Out,’ Asia Society, New York, NY
1998
‘Inside Out,’ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
1998
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Monterrey, Mexico
1998
Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
1998
UBC Gallery Vancouver, Canada
1997
‘Second Johannesburg Biennale,’ Johannesburg, South Africa
1996
‘First Shanghai Biennale,’ Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
1996
Interpol
1996
Row Gallery
1996
The Mythos of Lost Dynasties, Binet Gallery, Tel-Aviv, Israel
1995
Hong Kong Museum, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
1995
The Alternative Museum, New York, NY
1995
‘Silent Energy,’ Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England
1995
‘Mao Goes Pop, China Post 1989,’ Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
1994
Kroller Museum
1993
Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England
1992
Enrico Garabaldi Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy
1990
University Art Museum, California State University, Sacramento, CA
Jan 1 1989 12:00AM–1989
‘China Avante Garde - No U turn,’ China National Art Gallery, Beijing, People’s Republic of China
Jan 1 1987 12:00AM–1987
York University

Literature

2007
China Art Book. Uta Grosenick / Caspar Schübbe (Ed.), 680 pages, approx. 850 images, trilingual: Engl./Ger./Chin., Dumont Buchverlag, Cologne 2007. www.chinaartbook.de
2004
“International perspectives on art and culture”, documentary sources in contemporary art #6th, mit press and the new museum of contemporary art, 2004, New York, USA
2004
Janet Marquardt and Stephen Eskilson: "Issues in visual culture" Laurence King ltd, 2004, London, England
2003
Gao Chien-Hui, “After origin”, Taiwan 2003
2002
Laura Hoptman and Tomas Pospiszyl “Primary documents: a sourcebook for eastern and central european art since the 1950s”, the museum of modern art and mit press, 2002, USA
Gao Mushen, “A thought history of chinese painting”, p.339, San Ming publisher, Taiwan