Artistic Songs of Tibetan Highlands

“The hills are alive with the sound of music

With songs they have sung for a thousand years

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music

My heart wants to sing every song it hears…”

– “The Sound Of Music”


In Gui Zhao Hai’s case, the majestic mountainous terrain in the Sichuan-Tibetan Highlands moves him to return repeatedly to lead a nomadic life for the sole purpose of capturing with his rhythmic brushstrokes his first-hand experiences of awe-inspiring nature.

And in this contemporary Chinese ink painter’s first solo exhibition by Asia Art Collective in Singapore, the artworks in “Solitude” showcase the harmonious marriage he has achieved between the creative revolution and reinvention of the ink-wash tradition he has undertaken with his ceaseless near-esoteric inspiration from these alluringly breath-taking remote snow-capped alps of Tibet.

Inter-mingled amongst this wedded bliss is the crucial centrality of his other equally evocative talents – as calligrapher, writer and poet. The undeniable consequence is a fluid application of ink that embodies the philosophical ideals of respecting and admiring the serenity, purity, righteousness and beauty epitomized by this natural world.

These Gui best conveys by signature monochromatic works that captivatingly draw us into the essence of ethereal music played by the stunning Tibetan peaks and its infinite continuum into the sublime allure of nature.

The evident control and finesse he has in his mastery of the brush births an intricate attention to rendered detail: broad and bold strokes bring out the grandeur of strikingly eerie mountainous terrains soulfully blending into atmospheric skies, while fine and quick flourishes evoke the equally ethereal scattering of pristine soft snow over the divine landscape.

Combined with his clever play of shadow and light, the resulting monumental heights reached by the soaring highlands of Tibet thus resolutely revealed in his works of art belies his firm belief that human existence is minuscule by comparison; which in turn provokes us to reflect on the real relationship man has with the natural world.

And that our undeniable longing for the purity, serenity and beauty it represents sets us on a spiritual journey through the convoluted path by way of its definitive valleys; wrought with its own share of danger and difficulty. The consequential intermittent solace we can, thus, find Gui depicts as welcoming coloured flags that adorn the Buddhist temples dotting the Tibetan mid ranges.

It is also a compelling quest that he has set for himself as a contemporary Chinese landscape painter, as he knows that it is an artistic discipline that reflects the mind and heart of the artist once it has been mastered. As climbing up a distant peak requires determination and an extended period of training, ink painting is an art form that requires many years of learning and perseverance.

Having been a protégé of Li Keran, one of China’s most renowned 20th century modern artist, and been under the tutelage of two master painters, Li Xiaoke and Jia Youfu, at the Beijing Fine Art Academy and the Central Fine Art Academy have thus far led him to winning multiple awards, including the ‘Outstanding Award’ in the National Chinese Ink Painting Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association in 2014.

Yet Gui humbly knows that his artistic expedition up the Sichuan-Tibetan mountain-scape has just begun – there are many more highland serenades he has yet to fluidly capture with ever increasingly revolutionary and re-innovative rhythmic brushstrokes of midnight ink on chaste paper.

Exhibition : Solitude

By : Asia Art Collective

Where: Visual Arts Centre, 10 Penang Road, #01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green, Singapore 238469

When : Till 18 March 2016

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