Guo Fengyi

Shaodian (Father of Yellow Emperor)


Guo’s works often depict elaborately drawn characters, such as mythological figures and ornately dressed humans, that embody both humanoid and otherworldly qualities. The fantastic themes, which are delineated with minute details and vibrant colors, are often related to the artist’s study of I-Ching, the most ancient book of divination in China. Furthermore, her works also touch upon other thinking systems in the Chinese tradition, such as cosmologies, diagrams of acupuncture points, the concepts of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors, the Hetu (Yellow River Chart) and the Luoshu (Inscription of the River Luo), emperor burials,  and so on. The artist’s unique and eccentric weaving together of these diverse fields of knowledge constitutes a striking form of self-empowerment. A philosopher, healer, and artist, Guo creates drawings that function as cosmic diagrams, healing devices, and, also, art.

About the Artist

Born in 1942 in Xi'an, China, Guo was a self-trained artist who did not begin her artistic career until the latter portion of her life. She worked at a rubber factory until the age of 39, when she developed severe arthritis that forced her into early retirement. As a way of alleviating pain, and hoping to continue working with her hands, she started to practice qigong, a Chinese system of physical exercise and breath control related to tai chi. While doing qigong, Guo would enter into a hallucinatory state of being that prompted a series of transcendent visualizations. She would attempt to capture the figures she saw on scrolls in her hallucinations, both small and large scale. This practice of artmaking helped Guo connect her mind and body, an exercise much like the Surrealist practice of automatic drawing.