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Painter | Kuo Jen

  • Date:2023-09-28
Kuo Jen

Chinese Name: 郭軔

Born: 1926

Died: August 19, 2023

Place of Birth: Henan, China

Did You Know?

In addition to the art world, Kuo Jen also made significant contributions to Taiwanese cinema in the 1960s. He served as the art director for director Lee Hsing (李行)'s films "Oyster Girl (蚵女)" and "Beautiful Duckling (養鴨人家)," and won the Best Art Director award at the 12th Asian Film Festival.

Kuo Jen was born in 1926 in Henan, China, and studied at the National Beiping Art School (now the Central Academy of Fine Arts). He was a student of the renowned Chinese modern painter Xu Beihong (徐悲鴻). In 1949, due to the Chinese Civil War, he came to Taiwan with the retreat of the Nationalist government. In 1958, he received a government scholarship to study in Spain and was honored as an academician of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Spain. During his studies in Spain, Kuo gradually shifted towards abstract painting and developed his theory of “neovisualism,” advocating for a type of painting that abandons concrete representation and focuses on composition.

After completing his studies and returning to Taiwan in 1962, Kuo joined the Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University as a teacher. He continued the modern painting movement of the late 1950s launched by the Fifth Moon Group (五月畫會) and Eastern Painting Group (東方畫會), bringing abstract art into academic teaching. Kuo dedicated himself to art education, nurturing numerous creative talents, and promoting international art exchanges. He became a pioneer in promoting abstract art in Taiwan and retired as a senior professor in the Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University.

Throughout his life, Kuo Jen focused on abstract art and adhered to his concept of "neovisualism." He viewed creation as an "artistic and intellectual activity" that is not limited by form or medium. He wholeheartedly pursued the abstract realm, believing that through the use of abstract thinking, humans can continuously gain new understanding. This understanding allowed his works to transcend the enigmatic nature of traditional abstract paintings, with each artwork serving as a personal experience. Kuo believed that artists present abstract meanings through their works after cognition and contemplation. For him, his abstract works were the result of thinking, emphasizing the rational aspect rather than emotional expression.

Furthermore, Kuo believed that poetry, calligraphy, and painting are closely related and inseparable. In addition to Western painting, he excelled in ink painting, calligraphy, and poetry. As a first-generation Taiwanese artist who integrated Western abstract art with Chinese painting and calligraphy traditions, Kuo Jen combined the concepts of Western abstract painting with modern techniques, bringing about a new transformation in Eastern traditional aesthetics. He was versatile in his choice of artistic mediums, including oil painting, calligraphy, ink painting, poetry, and prose. For Kuo, art was a combination of both creation and theory, with neither being dispensable. In addition to teaching and research, he frequently held important solo and group exhibitions both domestically and internationally, and his works are collected in art museums in Taiwan and abroad.


The basic structure of Kuo Jen’s paintings is the interplay of horizontal and vertical lines, which is his distinctive personal style. He tirelessly engaged in the creation of abstract art, not simply presenting concrete objects in an abstract manner, but viewing "abstraction" as the highest form of thinking capable of generating new knowledge, ideas, and logic. Kuo emphasized not only the aesthetic beauty of art but also the establishment of a new relationship between humanity and art.

Kuo Jen's son, the well-known Taiwanese writer Kuo Chiang-sheng (郭強生), once stated that his father was born in a turbulent era and still fostered a lifelong love for art. Despite facing difficult and challenging circumstances, he never gave up his pursuit of art and was a true artist.