Alvin Guo

MFA ’22 Fine Arts Low-Residency

My art is about rethinking the significance and role of vision in the context of contemporary art. It aims to describe a gaze, showing an entire field of sight in one sole point of focus, surrounded by a large unfocused blurry field. This approach is based on my understanding of the limitations of human vision, involving our inability to see many planes of focus simultaneously.

I use Chinese untreated and treated Xuan Paper. Untreated paper allows water to spread; treated paper does not. On untreated paper, I splash watery colors, letting them spread to create blurred abstractions that are both deliberate and serendipitous. On treated paper, I employ a “wet-on-wet” process where I blend colors, eliminating brush strokes and sharp borders, creating layers of accumulated media while maintaining ambiguity. With both the splashing and wet-on-wet techniques, I try to achieve a soft, hazy, charming, mysterious, and rich visual effect. In contrast, at the clear point, I depict the image with solid lines and exquisite details. Patterns echo the blurry field, representing the unshown image. I emphasize the difference between clarity and blurriness, employing gestures of revealing and hiding, and creating tension by pushing both to extreme degrees.

My work inherits the lineage of Chinese Song Dynasty meticulous painting, applying a contemporary perspective. My influences range from Lin Fengmian’s innovation of Chinese painting, to Gerhard Richter’s blurriness, Susan Lichtman’s subtle colors, Gustav Klimt’s patterns, and Hans Hofmann’s push and pull method.

Alvin Guo is a Boston-based painter. Over the course of his professional career, Guo has worked as a teacher, editor, designer and painter. He has had many solo and group exhibitions in the US and China. Guo is the recipient of many awards, including a grand prize at the 1988 Chinese Painting Grand Prix Competition in Hongkong/Shenzhen. His work is held in the Bada Shanren museum as well as private collections. He loves nature and celebrates the natural world through his art. His current work interprets his visual perception and reflects his understanding of human visual limitations.