Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on September 12, 2014 of The Great Metaphorist by Guo Hongwei. Born in Sichuan province in 1982, Guo has achieved wide renown for his mastery of the watercolor technique, culminating in the large-scale watercolors exhibited in Painting is Collecting I, II, III at Chambers Fine Art in 2012. In these as in his works in other media, the metaphorical associations of the objects he represents have always been of particular importance to him, a way of thinking about the world that reaches a climax in his new exhibition, The Great Metaphorist. Turning away from the objects from the natural world that hitherto he has depicted with scrupulous fidelity, he uses as the thematic core of this exhibition the twenty minute drive that he makes several times a day between his house and studio in Beijing.
In a humorous fictional account of the circumstances that led to the creation of this multi-media work, Guo describes a visit to a fortune-teller who informed him that the drive on July 17 would determine his destiny. Reflecting on this he observes that “your character determines how you drive a car, and essentially how you live your life; a short ride to work may well be a mirror of your life.” When he starts paying attention to this daily routine, he is astounded at the richness of what he observes.
Playing the role of the fictional artist/poet who by profession is alert to the richness of metaphorical associations, Guo muses aloud on the connections between his life and art and this daily drive. The main part of the exhibition consist of a five-screen video, four elements of which combine the fictitious script with random events that happen on the road, turning metaphor into a logical mode of connecting random phenomena. The fifth screen shows the collaboration between the artist/poet and the freestyle rapper Xiao Laohu Jfever. Using what he sees on the road as inspiration, the rapper comments on what he sees, revealing the hidden connection between things through his improvisations. In another video work – The Great Metaphorist: Fortunetelling – the artist collaborates with a fortuneteller who comments on the relationship between daily life and karma.
Supplementing the videos is a new group of paintings based on maps of the artist’s journey from his home to his studio which are treated in a variety of styles, indicative of the wide range of the artist’s life interests. In a new series of prints based on the covers of the many books the artist consulted in preparation for this project, the artist redesigned them as metaphors of the contents of the books and the viewing aesthetics of the time.
In this latest body of work Guo Hongwei abandons his habitual methods of expression in an attempt to achieve a grand synthesis of his multifarious interests which include not only the visual arts but literature, performance and contemporary music.
At the opening of the exhibition on September 12, there will be a live performance by rap singer Xiao Laohu Jfever.