Working with plastic, meat, and then fruit, Gu Dexin was one of the first artists to use unconventional materials in China.
In the early 1980s, Gu melted scrap pieces of plastic he took home from a plastics factory in Beijing where he worked part-time. The resulting abstract forms were a radical departure from his earlier paintings and from the realistic and representational styles of art that dominated the mainstream of artmaking in China at the time. Gu became fascinated by plastic’s texture and versatility.
In the untitled room-sized installation featured in this exhibition, Gu assembled a colorful array of contorted, organic, and raw forms made from molded plastic, emphasizing the tactile and versatile nature of the material.
“Plastic made a deep impression on me as a child. It was a new material [to China] and it was everywhere. Everything in the house was plastic: shoes, tablecloths, bowls, and utensils. I was fascinated by its feel to the touch; that it could be malleable, hard, soft or brittle, and of so many colors and textures.”—Gu Dexin 1
Gu Dexin, quoted in Karen Smith, Nine Lives: The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China (updated edition, New York: AW Asia, 2009), 201.
Melted and adjoined plastic
126 x 314 15/16 in. (320 x 800 cm)
Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon