The Five Heads of Sun Guoqing

I’d like to think of Sun Guoqing as a Hydra, and every head is looking into a different direction. The result is a multifaceted, polyphonic body of work encompassing what could otherwise be perceived as the work of many in one.
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  • The Five Heads of Sun Guoqing

by Eduardo Montes-Bradley 

Last night, by coincidence, I was introduced to the Works of Sun Guoqing. A Graduate from the Art Department of Guizhou Teacher’s College Sun Guoqing was born in 1956, in Dalian, China.

His works and looks immediately subdued me. Sun Guoqing looks Puerto Rican, or a slightly oriental distant-relative of Juan Luis Guerra. However, Sun Guoqing is as Chinese as they come. Born and raised, the graduate of the Oil Department at China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), doesn’t speak a work of English, and he doesn’t have to. He’s official language is, no doubt in my mind, art.

After working many years as a Set Designer for the Movie Studio of the People's Army of China he decided to go dedicate full time to pursue a career in front of the easel and he’s doing pretty good at it.

I’d like to think of Sun Guoqing as a Hydra, and every head is looking into a different direction. The result is a multifaceted, polyphonic body of work encompassing what could otherwise be perceived as the work of many in one.

The Hydra

Sun Guoqing

Steel Metal Fiction (The First Head)

Works such as “Emperor” or “Memory Stage No. 3@” are curious examples of hyperrealism. The texture and peculiar come to terms in the canvas (composite materials) giving birth to solid metal sheets aged and corroded. In today’s ultramodern Beijing, this representations of a mechanical past could be perceived as reminiscent bits, bolts, locks, welded fantasies of the revolution before the Revolution: Industrialism.

Futuristic fantasies (The Second Head)

The same technique used to summon the spirit of XIX century machinery, doors, walls, panels or bolts is used by Sun Guoqing to concoct the aerial perspective of urban districts covered by the snow. He calls some of this works “The City Of The Future” followed by the number in order of creation. Costal-lines from the perspective of a distant satellite will give in to the temptation to cruise the street between the walls of high-rise buildings (Unknown Scenery No. 4) to later return to the perpendicular angle favored by the artist where a small village sits alongside a field cover in snow (Unknown Scenery).

The Human Factor (The Third Head)

Suddenly, the futuristic geo-thermal viewpoint gives in to the human figure. A hand, a torso; the breast of a woman hiding behind a cloud are emphatic reminders that between the steel metal sheets and the utopian future lays a universe of sensuality with no frontiers. The woman Sun Guoqing paints are extremely beautiful, most definitely western. They don’t belong in this time and age. Sun Guoqing’s ladies (“Nightingdale”) embody a certain transgression thought by me to be of the exclusive use of post-Victorian artist in France and other European nations. However, the spectrum of outstandingly beautifully oriental women will pop-up around the corner (“Lonely Summer”) to remind us that we’re witnessing the works of a remarkable Chinese artist. The lady holds a candle, which becomes the artist’s only source of light, and the figure of a clay man appears sitting in a throne. “MiaoNv”, “The Clauds Plateau” and “Lost In The Wilderness in Children” might very well be good examples of yet another head of the same animal. They depict ancient woman in traditional garments. The beauty on the latter is not so much in the eye of the beholder as in the exquisite details. Perhaps these paintings are the one showing the most how Sun Guoqing was influenced by his work as a Set Designer in Chinese movie productions.

The Ghost (The Fourth Head)

An ocean of salt where a dense cloud hangs over a ghost ship is what Sun Guoqing calls “Memories Of The Response”. These is oil on canvas are rare, and don’t seem to be favored by the artist. However they are amongst my preference.

Presence (The Fifth Head)

The “Fourth Wall” is a curious fragment of a building where few details are placed to remind us we’re not alone.  A shirt hangs out to dry on a window, graffiti on the walls.  They are not there to be seen, however you can feel their presence: They are there; they are your next-door neighbors at siesta time. Finally: “Process Variation” Composite materials. A fossil, the imprint of a mythological fish with iron bolts for eyes and small metal sheets as the vertical column suspended in time.

I didn’t find that many references to Sun Guoqing in Internet, almost none were in English. However, I was able to communicate with Sun Guoqing and enjoyed the viewing of his images as Nancy Yu presented them to me in a catalogue last night.


In 1994, was selected to take part in the 8th National Exhibition.

In 1997, took part in the 2nd Youthful Oil Painting Exhibition, Tend towards New Century, in Beijing and Shenzhen.

In 2000, took part in the 20th century Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, Culture Forum, and Chinese Landscape Painting Exhibition in Finland.

In 2002, took part in The Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition in Austria.

In 2003, the art work ‘Zero’ was exhibited in 7 Union Modern Art Exhibition in Berlin, Germany

In 2004, the art work ‘Disappearing Memory’ was exhibited in Hong Kong.

In 2005, took part in The Exhibition of Material and Expression between mountain and water

In 2007, was invited to take part in The Famous Artist Oil Painting Exhibition in Beijing.

In 2008, took part in The Digesting of Material Spirit Exhibition.

In 2009, took part in Art Beijing Exhibition. In the same year, was invited to take part in Red Memory Exhibition in Shanghai.

In 2009, the art work ‘Solid Free’ was selected in the 11th National Art Exhibition, and won outstanding award.


‘Ehe Echo of Qilian Mountain’, ‘Poxi Battle’, ‘A Wife of Horse Thief’, ‘Bang of Sulun River’, ‘A Holy Fire in Horizon’ ‘Sincerity Between the Liver and Gall’, ‘Ye, Jianying of Control Center’, ‘A Report of A Female Officer’, and ‘Honor of Soldier’.