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Artists' Artists - Guo Hongwei

Artists write about a work of art that has influence them

Edgar Degas, Examen de Dances (The Dance Class), 1874

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Edgar Degas, Examen de Dance (The Dance Class), 1874, oil on canvas, 83×77 cm. Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Edgar Degas, Examen de Dance (The Dance Class), 1874, oil on canvas, 83×77 cm. Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Apparently Edgar Degas never willingly admitted to being an Impressionist, even though he took part in every Impressionist exhibition (the first was held in 1874), apart from the one in 1882. Degas took the traditions of figurative painting and combined them with his individual sensibility. This allowed his work to retain certain academic qualities while, at the same time, side-stepping conventions. Degas explored Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s ideas of beauty and Gustave Courbet’s realism, all the while trusting — like his fellow Impressionists — his intuition and perception with regard to colour and paint application. In the 20th century, Francis Bacon, in turn, inherited Degas’s sense of the sublime, his interest in tradition and a profound recognition of the importance of individualism. Every time I look at Degas’s work, I am more convinced of the spirituality that a painting should embody — it reminds us that reality is full of glittering inspiration. 

Guo Hongwei lives and works in Beijing, China. Earlier this year, his short film Miss Oyu (2014) was included in the 8th Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions at the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan. He had a solo show at Gallery 100, Taipei, Taiwan, in 2015. Between 2011 and 2016, Guo founded and ran the alternative space ‘The Gland’ in Beijing’s Black Bridge Village.

Issue 5

First published in Issue 5

October 2016
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