Gong Yuebin Art Works

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Second Saturday Blog News on Gong Yuebin Life's Crossroad Opening, 8th of July 2010

A large scale sculpture series “Life's Crossroad” has successfully unveiled to public on July 8, 2010, Thursday in Sacramento.

The opening ceremony drew the attention and attendance of professionals from major museums, universities, Media, and art commission/association. Following the opening to Saturday, over thousand members of audience visited Gong Studio. The visitors are very patiently waiting in a 100-feet long line, and all visits are very smooth and harmonious till the close at 10:30. Countless visitors expressed to arise an awareness of respecting life and resource from each other. Many had their tears in eyes. They appraised Gong’s work as unique and shocking to the society, There's a reason why this show has the biggest buzz in Sacramento and why Gong has changed the Sacramento art landscape for good".

Our advice: The studio gallery is open from noon to 9 p.m. on 2nd Saturday, so go early.  

When you get in, walk slowly and think about Mother Earth.

Sacramento Bee report on Gong Yuebin Life’s Crossroad Opening

"Friday sacramento bee second saturday pick"

Second Saturday Picks: Installation, new works are highlights - Art Galleries - sacbee.com -- from sacbee.com via SacConnect.us





Sacramento Business of the Arts report for Life’s Crossroad Exhibition:

By Dennis Mccoy Sacramento business Journal
December 17, 2010.
Second Saturday-Merchants love marketing exposure, but would like more sales
The article and photo click the link on page 4 and photo on photo 2 of 4




California State University News paper The State Hornet report for Gong Yuebin two

exhibitions in CSUS campus from April 4, to April 22, 2011.
By Alex Grotewohl
Thursday, April 21, 2011.
Art exhibit on campus features abstract, large-scale installations
Life’s Crossroad and the article and photo click the link







Gong Yuebin and His Life`s Crossroad Series

    Breathtaking is the first impression of viewing Life's Crossroad, a forty six-piece sculpture series made not of marble, brass nor fiberglass, but of the blackened trunks of cedar trees, left lifeless by a scorching fire. Silent and motionless, these dead trees come once again to life as moving artworks with a powerful message. They are the work of Gong Yuebin, who would bring their message to the rest of us.

    There is a Chinese saying, "To understand the present, we must know the past". Let's learn more about the artist and his story to understand his artwork better.

    The inspiration for Life's Crossroad rose from Gong Yuebin's childhood dream for life with dignity and respect. During the 1960s and 1970s, Gong and his family were forced to leave city life and live in exile in a rural village in Northern China. They endured hunger, physical hardship, emotional pain and political persecution. Life devoid of love and compassion drove Gong to bond with nature. Behind his house, a small dirt hill eroding from rain became his friend. And sixteen peach trees, his playmates, consoled his loneliness. When the political movement was over, Gong grew into adulthood and returned to city life. In the early 1980s, after graduating from an art college, he moved to Southern China, where rapid economic growth brought more freedom and personal choice in life. Gong transformed himself from an academic into an accomplished commercial art designer and a successful businessman. In 2002, after recovering from a serious illness, he resolved to retire and to move to America to rediscover himself and his art.

    In California, Gong slowly began a new life free of superfluity, busyness and self-seeking. In tranquility, he searched for the true essence
of life. Over six months, Gong visited major art museums and galleries in the US. After 20 years away, He determined that it was, at last, time to fulfill his childhood dream through art. But he sought new modes of expression. He did not touch any of the rice paper brought from China. The Chinese style ink painting on paper featuring natural scenes and human characters goes back more than a thousand years. But Gong felt it inadequate to express the sentiments and thoughts of the 21st century. His departure from this traditional art form does not mean a farewell to his Chinese roots, because his childhood dreams inspired him to express his respect for life in his own way. Gong looked for more natural and pure media for art creation that can touch people's hearts and transcend any limitation of culture, form, and ideology.

    Gong thought about using vines. They appear soft and feeble but are very resilient and strong survivor, a perfect metaphor of human life. But he would not destroy life to create art. Then, one day, when he stood in front of sixteen thousand acres of forest in the aftermath of a wild fire on the Sierra Mountains, Gong was astonished by the sight. The mass collection of black dead trees moved Gong's heart. He saw the struggle of life at the moment of death. If those trees could talk, what they would tell us of life and death; or of the wild fire that had slain them, leaving only ruined, black clad trunks? In their presence, he heard an echo of their painful moaning and screaming before death. Or, was it a cry for life from their souls. For a month and half, Gong visited the mountain every day. With cane in hand, he walked every foot of the blackened forest and conversed with every tree trunk still standing. Under the changing lights of the Sun and the Moon, Gong listened to the motionless and lifeless trees. In the cold silvery moonlight, every charcoaled tree trunk seemed a dead soul returned to tell its story and charging Gong to bear witness to humanity. The dead trees seemed to be sending a message about life and death for humanity and for nature and offered their own scorched remains as a medium for communication. Upon returning to his studio in Sacramento, Gong checked statistics of death tolls from wars. It seemed obvious to him that if the fallen soldiers and casualties of wars in the last thousand years came back to life, they would tell the same stories as those trees, stories about fear and desperation in the face of death, about hope and desire for life. Gong had found his mission --- to use his art to carry nature's message to human beings.

    It took Gong Yuebin three years to complete Life's Crossroad, from identifying the art media to creating the exhibition. During the whole process of collecting material and creating art, Gong kept the sculptures as natural as he had found them, avoiding artificial, manual, and subjective factors as much as possible. The tree trunks with all their burnt marks were arranged in their natural postures. Yet, the finished sculptures are Gong's art work, his creation with a gift from nature.

    The Life's Crossroad exhibition is divided into five sections, each focusing on one aspect of life. The Body is composed of sixteen pieces. Every piece holds its posture, representing different forms of life and illustrating the kind and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly in life.
The Spirit is embodied in a shape of human brain. It reminds us to go beyond the usual boundaries of constraint, to listen attentively and think profoundly.

    The Resource consists of eight pieces with a well in the middle, made from a hollowed tree trunk. The well represents vital resources, such as water and oil and the obligations of those who use them. There is a Chinese saying, when you drink the water, remember him who dug the well. The seven pieces surrounding the well represent the seven continents on our planet. The fact is, every human war has originated from fighting over control and access to resources. Gong put a mirror on the bottom of the well. When viewers lean over the well, they will see their own images in the mirror and become part of the art work. Would this trigger a new thinking of each individual's role in consuming natural resources?

    The Lifeline starts from a piece with a large burnt hole. It symbolizes the womb that gives birth to life. This piece of work is followed by seven other pieces illustrating different stages of life, from newborn to adulthood, from completely natural, to marked by social influence and lost uniqueness of an individual. If enough space for exhibition is available, this section can stretch over fifty meters.

    The Freedom can be interpreted as a continuation of the Lifeline. The section depicts the reality that a human life has a brief natural period followed by a long period of confinement in society especially after adulthood.

    Gong has used two different lights for his sculptures. Under natural light, his works reveal their natural colors and texture. There is a sense of loss, a past that may be remembered but never recovered. However, a different lighting reveals a much more ominous message and portents of a dark, terrifying future. Under a black light specially designed for this sculpture series, the red acrylic and paint stand out from the black body with iridescent light as if lava pouring out of a volcano in the dark night or shimmering fire in cinder ashes. Freely poured red acrylic flows down along the groves on the tree trunk strongly contracting the burnt lifeless black. Red and black, they represent life and death in the same space and time, carrying on the conversation between life and death and warnings from death to life.

    Gentle and soft spoken Gong Yuebin says that he has no intention to send any religious message or show any anti-war sentiments. He simply wishes to express his affection and love for life. As an artist, he does not want to impose any ideology on his audience. He would just like his art works to provide a key to your own heart. Once you have the key, you are able to open a window of life of your own.

    After a twenty-year separation, Gong Yuebin has returned and fully embraced art. He is determined never to leave. His subject will forever be life, its understanding and interpretation. No matter which media or material he will use, he vows never to end a life for the sake of his art. He is determined to live for an on-going dialogue between life and death through the voice of art.

    Long YingChun


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