One of the qualifications I have for writing about Kuan-hsin Kuo and her paintings is that I am a journalist by profession who specializes in reporting about art and culture. Another qualification, and the more important one, is that I am Kuan-hsin's boyfriend. For the past two years I have been a daily witness to the struggles and triumphs of her creative processes as she worked on the 24 paintings for her new exhibition titled "The Dream Maker". As well as seeing the development of each of these paintings from their conception to completion, I have had the privilege to share in many discussions with Kuan-hsin regarding the philosophy behind her art.
The first thing that strikes me when I see any of Kuan-hsin's paintings is her extraordinary use of color and her ability to create such beautiful, almost blinding, light. From her elemental use of trees, sky, stars, moon, forests and oceans it is easy to see that she draws a lot of inspiration from nature. Other sources of inspiration come from mythology and fairytales as well as classical and renaissance art and surrealism. There are strong narrative themes in Kuan-hsin's paintings and people often think they have a particular symbolic meaning. Kuan-hsin says, "It's never my intention to tell a specific story or make an exact reference to anything, I'm just painting what I feel. The wonderful thing about art is that it's open to an infinite number of interpretations."
It is difficult to categorize Kuan-hsin's paintings. Words like modern, romantic, dreamlike and mysterious all apply, but they don's quite capture what it is that makes her work so unique. I am amazed by the effect her paintings have on me. It is as if someone has opened a door to my mind, woken up all of my subconscious thoughts and feelings and then held a mirror in front of them so that they can examine their reflections in its glass. It is Kuan-hsin's ability to portray and communicate such a vast range of human emotions that truly intrigues me.
For Kuan-hsin, being a good human being is important. She believes it is a way to enrich the soul and the spirit. She also believes this is the way she can improve herself as an artist. Kuan-hsin has a strong, intuitive sense for all things mystical, so it is not surprising to find that the process by which she creates art has a spiritual dimension to it. Unlike many conceptual artists, Kuan-hsin does not plan her paintings before she begins. No concrete decisions are made concerning subject matter, structure and the elements she will use. She says, "There is no technique when it comes to making art. It does not require concentration. It requires a special kind of awareness that reveals a creative emptiness that cannot be imagined or formulated. Creativity, for me, is a form of meditation. It's about getting into a state of heightened sensitivity, being fully awake and opening your attention on your feelings and allowing them to flower in your mind."