Graham Kuo, "Silk Poem", 2004
Graham Kuo - Artist's Statement
My work has, for some time, reflected a conscious preoccupation with effecting an aesthetic reconciliation between a Western abstract sensibility with a uniquely Chinese form of calligraphic mark making, through a visual language of gestural, lyrical abstraction, with colour and form assuming dominance over figuration or representation. I am a painter not of things but of paintings and paintings, for me, are made of combinations of colours, textures and shapes not in the figurative world although frequently inspired by it. Many of my works reflect the experience of revisiting China and encountering the past in collision with the present - my birth culture in collision with my adopted culture. The images conceal while revealing, reminiscent of disintegrating surfaces and peeling paint and they vibrate with the intense, vibrant, sometimes faded colours and sensations of the Chinese environment. They look through veils and doorways to the other side.
In an interview some three years prior to his death, Matisse is reported to have said, '...all this time I have looked for the same things, which I have perhaps realised by different means.' This statement strikes a chord with my own methods and artisitic journey as I discover a familiarity among my diverse influences and sources of inspiration. As Sasha Grishin wrote, 'Kuo is very conscious of a distinction between Chinese and Western modes of visualization....His delicately balanced non-figurative designs have an ease, elegance and breathing freedom which can be associated with traditional Chinese calligraphy, yet are firmly located within the tradition of Western Abstract Expressionism.
My experiences are shared with the viewer through my paintings where I would hope that the movement and vibrancy of the colours and marks on canvas invites them into a world which taps into a multiplicity of experiences and visions, and which can be located at an intersection of western art traditions and methods with eastern philosophies and sensibilities. My work, for me, is something evolved through nature rather than manufactured, instinctive rather than painstakingly premeditated.
As I grow older I find painting is about what one sees, what one hears, what one reads,... poetry or whatever... it all affects the way you see things... you put that onto the canvas.