Kuan-hsin (Katherine) Kuo was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1971. As a child, she loved to paint and wanted to be a teacher. She received her art education at San Francisco Art Institute, California, where she majored in painting and studied under Professor Bruce McGaw and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1998. Her work has been exhibited in both group and solo shows in the US, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

She loves painting, communing with nature, cooking, playing piano, reading and listening to music, especially classical music. Jordi Savall is her favorite musician. Furthermore, She gets a lot of inspiration from studying spiritual and philosophical books, particularly the works of Jiddu Kirshnamurti to whom she credits with having guided her towards enlightenment and a greater understanding of herself. She is now living in Taichung, the central city of Taiwan, with her husband, two cats and some fish. She continues to paint.

About the work

In a way, what I am doing in my work bears some resemblance to what the Impressionists were doing at the end of the 19th Century. The difference is that whereas the Impressionists focused on portraying the light or a scene at a particular moment in time, I focus on portraying a feeling that I experience at a particular moment in time. In effect, instead of depicting something that happens externally, what I reveal and attempt to relate to the viewer is internal experience. When I paint a landscape, it is not simply a case of painting mountains, sea, sky, trees etc…, it is a case of capturing on canvas a change of feeling that occurs in a moment as a result of being in a particular environment.

Another aspect of my work is that it runs counter to the current trend of conceptual art which focuses on cerebral activity, and where ideas and thoughts are all-important. Today, our brains are forced to work harder than ever, constantly analyzing a never-ending flow of data which speeds up and increases in line with technological developments. Again, I believe our brains, as much as our emotions, need a break from the ceaseless scream of digital information. This is where I hope my art can come to the rescue.

In seems to me that all the problems in the world are the result of thought and emotion. So, in my art I’m saying, “Wait a minute, what happens if, instead of responding to thoughts and emotions we do something else, we go beyond them?”

In conceptual art, thought is everything. In my art, thought is only a door to creation, and the creativity does not begin until thought stops and feeling takes over. The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The dew falls upon the grass when the night is at its most silent. Thoughts that come on dove’s feet guide the world” I, like Nietzsche, believe that truth is only revealed to the quiet mind.

I’m sensitive to color. That’s where my creativity starts. I get a feeling for a color and it all develops from there. While I am painting, I enter a quiet space and at that moment my body and mind are infused with extraordinary energy. I am guided by this energy. It determines my creative direction, and I follow it without thinking, without analyzing, without judging and without naming. In this state, the art reveals itself to me. It is completely new. It is nothing I have known before. It is something so real, and while I am painting have a feeling of being totally alive in each moment, from moment to moment, without past or future. I believe that it is possible for my artwork to communicate this state to the viewers. However, for this to occur it may be necessary for people to change the way they view paintings.

It has become the norm these days for viewers to spend no more than 15-30 seconds on a painting as they hurry through a gallery or museum in their quest to see everything. As a result, they see nothing at all. My paintings challenge this situation by requiring viewers to take time to absorb what is in front of them. On first seeing my more abstract work, viewers might think,‘What is this? I don’t see anything’, if they spend time with the paintings they may discover that a strange phenomenon takes place – the paintings become animated and form materializes out of nowhere. One viewer who spent time with my work said, “Where at first there was only green, the next moment there was a sun rising through the trees. Where one moment there was only blue, the next there was an embryo, and what was just aqua-marine became a beating heart.”

So, it doesn’t surprise me that viewers happen to see form materializing out of color in my work. This effect may not have been achieved intentionally, but I’ve always believed that what a viewer brings to a painting is just as important as what a painter puts into it.

All I ask is that the viewers also come to my work without thinking, without analyzing, without judging and without naming. If they can be with my art quietly and just be guided by its energy, they too may enter this state of perpetual newness. With this energy comes great feeling for everything. I believe this is the energy at the heart of artistic creation. From it, new ideas flower, new discoveries are made, life is redefined, a transition takes place, and we arrive at a completely new understanding of ourselves."

Selected from the article - Transition – Changing the way we view art