Liu Guosong

04.03.2008 – 26.03.2008

Extract of The dizzying plunge into appearances by Gérard Xuriguera, 75 Faubourg, Paris, 2008

“If we look at the fundamental stages of Liu Guosong’s output, we see on the one hand an ambivalence that could be otherwise expressed as a shift towards a landscape-inflected abstraction, or “abstract landscape”; and on the other a direct or allusive relationship with the natural order, in the wake of painter-calligraphers in quest of the essence of things, and of Lao Tse, who declares in the Tao Te Ching, “Man follows the way of the earth, the earth follows the way of heaven, heaven follows the way of nature.” Here, however, the landscape is not restricted to the interpretation of a specific site: more than a pretext, it is the locus of a symbolic representation of which man is only a rarely visible fragment, or one occasionally glimpsed upstream of a work, enclosed in a kind of vignette.

In the abstract sphere, a gushing wave of punctuations, ramifying arteries, flecked stratifications, monochrome or dazzling scumblings, jagged sedimentations, brief contractions, forms that are fluid, muted or transparent, veined foliage and cosmogonic climates […] all come together as an ebullient dialectic governed by a closely controlled gestuality – a kind of interiorisation of the referent – that from time to time is triggered by the pared-down demands of the calligraphic sign.

And then, under the global title “Tibet”, Liu Guosong provides a series of vegetal and mineral evocations expressing his collaboration with his environment. A lover of snow-capped mountains, stormy skies, semi-monochrome horizons seething with full and crescent moons, stretches of shivering grass and rebellious winds, summer mists and morning dew, rural expanses and vanished suns […] he at the same time offers his vision of the changing seasons; and this is surely what is most intimate in his work, what fringes his sometimes tranquil, sometimes tortured compositions. Compositions that are at once shifting and structured, that endlessly interweave the material and the immaterial, the infinite and the close-by, the transitory and the lasting, in a pantheistic sea-swell in which the legendary wisdom of the Far East meets the rationalist anxieties of Western art.

And while those venerable Sung landscapes challenge us frontally, in the territory that concerns us here shapes open up and multiply, revealing folds and openings that lead to the displacement of the centre, while the light, usually poured down from the sky, comes from the interior of the composition, opening outwards or closing inwards under the guiding influence of the brush.

And yet there is no great distance between the thematic and the stylistic; given that, as Pierre Schneider has noted, “there is no fundamental divergence between the gesture of the Western and the Oriental painter”, in that each celebrates in his own way entry into the lived instant at the peak of its tension.”