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Talk: Professor Kathleen Ryor on Guo Fengyi

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The Drawing Center

35 Wooster Street

New York, NY 10013

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Talk with Professor Kathleen Ryor on Guo Fengyi

About this Event

Presented in conjunction with Guo Fengyi: To See from a Distance, Professor Kathleen Ryor will join us for an exploratory talk about the complex and fascinating relationships between traditional Chinese notions of the cosmos and the human body, medicine, and divination found in Guo's mesmerizing drawings. Guo Fengyi (b. 1942, Xi'an) was a self-taught artist who practiced the ancient Chinese wellness technique of qigong to heal her chronic arthritis pain. During her qigong meditations, Guo drew what she envisioned, creating intricate ink drawings on subjects ranging from cosmology and Chinese mythology to traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy.

Kathleen M. Ryor is the Tanaka Memorial Professor of International Understanding and Art History at Carleton College, where she teaches East Asian art history. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and has published articles in a number of scholarly journals and edited volumes and served for five years as the editor of the journal, Ming Studies. Prof. Ryor’s research has focused on the artist Xu Wei (1521-93), military patronage of the arts, late Zhe school painting, Buddhist ink painting by secular artists and lay practitioners, as well as the relationship of painting to garden culture, food, and medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the topic of her current project.

About the Exhibition

Guo Fengyi: To See from a Distance is the first major institutional presentation of the Chinese artist’s work in the United States. The exhibition features more than thirty works from Guo’s brief yet prolific career, including drawings executed on book and calendar pages and on cloth, as well as small- and large-scale drawings on rice-paper scrolls. Spanning two floors of The Drawing Center’s galleries, To See from a Distance provides an overview of Guo’s visionary drawings, which incorporate the diagrammatic, the mystical, and the wildly imaginative.

Born in 1942 in Xi’an, Guo began making art in her late forties after debilitating arthritis forced her into early retirement from a job at a chemical fertilizer factory. To alleviate her chronic pain, Guo devoted herself to qigong—an ancient Chinese wellness and healing technique that combines coordinated movements, breathing, and meditation. Qigong allowed Guo, who did not have an academic art training, to develop a deeply personal and symbolically charged visual language. During her meditations, Guo drew what she envisioned, creating intricate ink drawings on subjects ranging from cosmology and Chinese mythology to traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy.

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The Drawing Center

35 Wooster Street

New York, NY 10013

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