Gu Dexin

02 May - 06 Sep 2009

© Gu Dexin
2009-05-02, 2009
Wooden panels, paints, red laquer, iron cage, old tv, video dvd

02/05/2009 - 06/09/2009


“ thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Shakespeare- Hamlet

Since 2005, Galleria Continua has hosted significant and demanding exhibitions. Artists are invited to express them selves through an intimate dialogue with the wholly exigent space, to engage its dimensions and its strong characteristics.
Gu Dexin’s starting point for his solo exhibition at Galleria Continua / Beijing was to leave the space as vacant and untouched as possible; to let the air fill in the gap between ‘reality’ and people’s perception of it; to avoid exercising ’POWER’ on any front.
The title of the exhibition, as for each of his projects, is represented simply by a date, signifying the opening and simultaneous closing of an event. For the artist, it indicates a conclusion, but for others, it is a beginning.
The exhibition contemplates messages of guilt and redemption. Over our heads, a tormented bundle of clouds flows unceasingly, preceding the human sense of time.
Gu Dexin’s interpretation of space is contemplative and measured; it, takes into account the gallery’s singular history, dimension, and location. He does not normally offer us a profound conceptual explanation of his work, but allows it to speak for itself. Often monumental in scale and site specific, his installation works communicate by appealing to the viewer at first sight and thence transporting us to the exceptional depth of the artist’s idea. Through this, and through Gu Dexin’s exceptional ability for visual expression, the distance between the viewer’s senses and thoughts is eliminated; the work reaches the heart and the mind on a deeply profound level.

Gu Dexin is an extremely peaceful person. His ideas about art, life, and his personal mode of living have always been intimately related, constantly sustaining one another with extreme coherence. Through art, Gu Dexin expresses and amuses himself and others. For Gu Dexin, art, as a medium, has never been a way to impose ideas, nor a way to exercise any sort of power. On the other hand, art has never held an indispensable meaning or position in his life; perfect equilibrium has always been sought and deeply pondered.
With a career as an ‘artist’, or, as he would probably prefer to say, as “a person who likes to play”, spanning more than thirty years, Gu Dexin has always maintained a firmly humble position. Initially he fought to express his ideals together with young colleagues through exhibitions, performances and installations that were becoming prevalent towards the end of the seventies. Later, he fought to keep a ‘low profile’ and to maintain a simple lifestyle whilst becoming more widely recognized. He has felt strongly about preventing the feverish art world from taking control of his thoughts and, most importantly, his life.
Unlike many others of his controversial contemporaries, Gu Dexin has always lived in China; he never left his hometown of Beijing, nor his small, comfortable apartment in the district of He Pingli. Always interested in following the subtle nuances of his native world, and unable to ignore the reality when it has been distressing, he has built a harmonious place to live quietly and work on his own. It has been a lifelong spiritual and intellectual engagement with his own thoughts, sometimes with fears, sometimes with loneliness.
Once the mind of Gu Dexin is ‘caught up’ in a project for inhabiting a new space, his work reaches impressive dimensions and characteristics. He brings the viewer to a world that seems surreal and fascinating, but which, in depth, represents a situation from reality - a weird dangerous and mistrustful world that hides unexpected cruelties such as the vacuous existence of the individual, the fragility of life itself. These moments of ‘truth’ seem so familiar to Gu Dexin, perhaps because of his elevated and deeply developed integrity.
Since the dawn of time, humankind has contemplated the dim recesses of the psyche, searching inwardly for an abundant world where life is harmonious and balanced. In our present world this daunting time of new beginnings, our longing continues, not for a new place nor one from the past, but for a world transformed, a world where respect for all is the conscious order of things.
It is this sort of mad lucidity, which encircles Gu Dexin’s way of being and ‘doing’. It enables spectators to realise that we are surrounded by a forceful ‘politics of power’, a muffled world in which equal opportunities, justice and freedom are imbued with threats...

Gu Dexin was born in Beijing in 1962. He currently lives and works in Beijing. Over the past thirty years. Gu Dexin has exhibited extensively in China and worldwide. He has participated internationally in many group shows including: “Les Magiciens de la Terre”, Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (1989); “China’s New Art Post (1989)”, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong (1993); “China Avant-garde”, Haus der Kulturen, Berlin, Germany; Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Holland; Museum Of Modem Art, Oxford, U. K.; Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, Odense, Denmark (1993); “Dreams and conflicts”, Venice Biennale, venice, Italy (2003); “China Power Station”: Part 1 Serpentine Gallery, London, U.K. (2006); “‘85 new wave-the birth of Chinese contemporary art”, UCCA, Beijing, China (2007); “The Real Thing”, Contemporary art From China, Tate Liverpool, U.K. (2007).

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