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Distributed for Asia Ink

Gao Xingjian

Painter of the Soul

Translated and including an interview with the author by Sherry Buchanan

Distributed for Asia Ink

Gao Xingjian

Painter of the Soul

Translated and including an interview with the author by Sherry Buchanan
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000, novelist Gao Xingjian is also an artist whose paintings are exhibited worldwide. Born in China in 1940, the multitalented Gao also excelled equally as a critic and playwright, but when his avant-garde plays were banned, he left China in 1987 and settled in France, where he lives today. A champion of a return to painting as a pure, intuitive form of expression, he remains as free from the diktats of the contemporary art market as he was from Communist censorship.

Illustrated throughout with two hundred reproductions, this stunning book showcases for the first time over two decades of Gao Xingjian’s visual oeuvre. Gao’s groundbreaking technique allows him to work with ink, a traditional Chinese medium, on large canvases. Inspired by a dreamlike inner world, Daoism, the Chinese literati painting tradition, and Western modernism, Gao Xingjian’s masterful ink-wash paintings envelop and transport the viewer to another plane. Daniel Bergez’s accompanying text draws from Gao’s Soul Mountain and other works to offer insights into these enigmatic landscapes and figures. Also included is an interview with the artist that reveals the motivation behind Gao’s unique pictorial creations.

264 pages | 200 color plates | 10 2/3 x 12 | © 2013

Art: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

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“Like his writing, his paintings convey poetry, intellect, and powerful narrative. At the same time, Gao . . . is a master of ink technique, and his works exude a creative energy born of Chinese tradition while being thoroughly universal and contemporary. . . . Whatever the current winds of whim and politics, Gao’s place in China’s cultural history appears to be indisputably set.”

New York Times, on an exhibition of Gao Xingjian’s paintings

“A mesmerizing gallery of ink-wash works that illustrates the different techniques, themes and periods in Gao’s extensive body of work. The . . . book, however, is more than just a monochrome beauty. Bergez . . . plumbed the depths of Gao’s works in brush and pen to surface the profound harmony between his writings and paintings. The result: a visually sumptuous read that is erudite yet approachable.”

Huang Lijie | The Straits Times (Singapore)

“[Gao] has been both lauded and criticised internationally for the complicated, elusive and labyrinthine structure of Soul Mountain, which eschews a traditional plot for a series of personal, evocative ruminations. . . . His paintings, though deep, are burdened by no such convolutions. Their beauty lies in their intense simplicity. His works (always black ink on paper and, later, canvas) blend the abstract and the literal in remarkable, decisive ways. Images are fluid and interpretation is open, like a Rorschach. Is that a tree? A telephone pole? A bleeding wound? . . . Collected, the images are nothing short of astonishing.”

Madeline Gressel | South China Morning Post

“Highly readable and enjoyable. . . . Generously oversized, the book beautifully illustrates Gao’s work.”

The Bangkok Post Magazine

“A triumph.”

Jessica Harrison-Hall | curator, Department of Asia, British Museum

Table of Contents

Gao Xingjian, Painter of the Soul  Daniel Bergez

                At the Crossroads of Inspirations

                Painting as Experience

                Painting and Language

                A Painter of the Soul

                Interrogating the Works

An Interview with the Artist  Sherry Buchanan



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