Yu Jigao: Gong Bi never lacks expression

Birds like cranes and peacocks are the most common subject of Yu's paintings. In Chinese culture, the crane is regarded as a heavenly bird that symbolizes longivity.


Yu Jigao


Gong Bi painter Yu Jigao says spirit transcends form.


Of the two categories of traditional Chinese painting, the realistic Gong Bi style is often considered less capable of depicting charm and expression than freehand brushwork.


But Painter Yu Jigao disagrees.


Spring lasts forever in traditional paintings


"Some say that complete resemblance of shape and quality leads to lack of charm and spirit and a variety of colors leads to lack of skillful brushwork, but Gong Bi never lacks expression," said Yu.


The painter said form and spirit make up the soul of traditional Chinese painting - using form to express spirit means to be able to grasp your true feelings for the world.


Though he uses a realistic style, "as a Gong Bi artist, I do not paint flowers and birds as they are", Yu noted. "Flowers and birds in my mind are objects to be used to create a poetic ideal, which originates from a sincere call from the essence of life."

Yu said he paints with his heart and soul to create a realm of eternal spiritual beauty.


Master carries torch for ancient art


Under his pen, blooms, buds, leaves, stems and branches are no long purely in their natural forms. They have all been elevated to images in an artistic realm that no logical language can explain.


"I have always been attracted by natural beauty, and while I was fishing or chasing rabbits, my heart would feel the pulse of nature and would be stirred by the spirit of life. That feeling, in time, turns into the images of chirping birds and elegant flowers in my paintings. The lotus, the peony, the pear blossoms and spring swallows under my pen are all my songs of thriving nature," he said.


"Natural scenery makes me feel that I had never been so awake to the essential meaning of life - I become totally oblivious of my own being as well as my society," he said.


According to Yu, Chinese culture is one of poetic quality. It perceives nature and the rest of the world with an aesthetic attitude and has its goal "combining the realm of heaven and people into one".


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