During the Cultural Revolution, He Gong was sent to the countryside for seven years to do manual labor. That experience, he says, “made me realize the true condition of China” and ignited his hatred of ideology and political control. In the mid-1980s he went to the United States to study—ironically, one of the first Chinese artists to do so with government support. It was a turning point: for the first time he was free to choose what he wanted to do. One day he came across an old railway station, preserved intact for a century. “It was all black and grey with age. It took me back to the past. It was like going back to the origin of things,” he recalls. At that moment, he decided to abandon the use of color: “Black and white represents the original state of being. It’s about dream and reality, contradiction and conflict.” His series The Occasion recaptures his memories of that vision in four huge paintings, each more than two meters square and covered with cobweb-like meshes of brushstrokes. Close up, the canvas looks chaotic, yet with distance recognizable forms emerge. When monochrome became trendy, He Gong began using color again. He Gong was born in 1955, Chongqing. He now lives and works in Chengdu, Sichuan, China & Frazer Park, California, USA.
He Gong, Gulag Summer, Mixed-Media on Yak Skin, 5' x 3 ', 2016, $3800
Nothing is Real
He Gong, Nothing is Real, Assemblage Artwork, 3' x 1 1/2' x 1.5', 2018, $2500