Gao Bo (China)

All of Gao Bo’s work is a circular journey, a permanent cycle of leaving and returning: he generates images and returns to them in order to reprocess, modify, or destroy them, inserting his work into this vital loop of creation–destruction that illustrates and affirms the evanescent nature of reality. The autobiographical and meditative character that impregnates his relationship with every aspect of art has its roots in the profound influence that Tibet has had over his personal development. Tibet was the scenario for his first photographs, and it could be said metaphorically that it is the metaphysical canvas on which he has traced his transit through life.

From 1985 through 1995, Gao Bo travelled to Tibet five times. But it was in 2009, while reviewing the documentary photographs he had taken back then, when he was aware that the artistic and personal enrichment that acquired along with Tibetan society required a symbolic ritual of return. He wanted to inscribe that relation in a practice of offering. That is the reason why he decided to write on the surface of the paper with his own blood. He used an illegible calligraphy as a way to represent the indescribable dimension of his experience: a sort of deconstructed writing that blocks the tendency of words to limit semantically the polyphonic signification that resides in the artwork.

Later he invited the people of Lhasa and other locations to a ceremony so that they too could participate in creating images. This collaborative practice symbolizes the character of shared authorship that his images of Tibet have acquired over time. The core elements of this series –unreadable writing, collaboration and offering– have been the protean seed of his personal artistic grammar, and it is often visible in many of his later works.

Born in Deyang City, Sichuan Province, China, in 1964. He lives and works in Beijing. He graduated at the Art Middle School of Sichuan, Chongqing, in 1983 and then at the Fine Art Institute of Tsinghua University, Beijing, in 1987. He moved to live in Paris in 1990 where he became member of Agence VU. In 1995, with financial support from the Hewlett Packard France Foundation published the book, Gao Bo Photo Tibet, and a touring solo exhibition was organized by the FNAC. The book, which he designed himself, opened the doors to an extraordinary commission: the creation of a limited-edition book celebrating the 80th birthday of I.M. Pei, the architect who designed, among other works, the Louvre’s pyramid. The book, I.M. Pei: Essences, printed in 1998, won the Most Beautiful Book in the World Prize, awarded by the Deutsches UNESCO-Kommission. Besides his artistic work, he has been active as curator (2000 to 2003) and architectural designer (2003 through 2009).