by Ariadna Zierold
Guo Fengyi’s ink drawings of fantastical creatures are completely alive, as might be expected from an artist whose work began with studies of qi, or life-energy. Fengyi was born in Xi’an, central China, in 1942. She obtained her high school diploma in 1962 and found work in a rubber factory. However, severe bouts of arthritis forced her to give up her career at the age of thirty-nine. She turned to alternative medicine in the hope of alleviating her symptoms, and found a new spiritual path in Qi Gong.
She started experiencing visions in 1989, as a result of which she produced large numbers of drawings, first on the backs of pages from calendars, then later on rice paper. She worked with Indian ink and brushes, producing works up to five metres long, drawn with no initial plan in mind, discovering her own creation as she worked. The multitude of delicate lines form ghostly figures, dragons, phoenixes, and faces, sometimes interwoven, smiling and serene or terrifying and monstrous.