A pioneering figure of Chinese contemporary art, Gu’s work is an embodiment of his traditional Chinese training and Western influences, responding to the social and cultural aspects of his immediate environment. Gu is one of the leaders of the ’85 New Wave Art Movement in China. He developed a bibliography of invented Chinese characters by deconstructing existing ones, and misplaced the various parts to create new and meaningless words. After relocating to the United States in 1987, he began creating large-scale installations to explore the issues of multiculturalism and globalisation. His mediums was changed to materials related to human body, such as the ‘United Nations’ project, which was created with blocks, curtains and characters constructed from human hair he collected from around the world.
Born in Shanghai, China in 1955, Gu studied traditional Chinese landscape painting under master Lu Yanshao at the China Academy of Arts, and taught there after his graduation in 1981. He then became the Associate professor of studio art at the University of Minnesota; invited to lecture at various art academies, universities in Norway, Sweden, and the United States. Gu has exhibited widely in major cultural institutions around the world, including Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (1995), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1998), Asia Society Museum in New York (1998), the 49th Venice Biennale (2001), Museum of Contemporary Art in Genoa (2001), National Gallery of Australia in Canberra (2001), Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou (2002), Shanghai Art Museum (2004), Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York (2004), Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2006, 2014) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen (2007).