June 4 ~ Reaffirming My Own Existence Return to Painting

"When you use words, you're able to keep your mind alive. Writing is my way of reaffirming my own existence." ~ Gao Xingjian

Ink Paintings by Gao Xingjian

Born on this day in Ganzhou, eastern China, writer and artist Gao Xingjian (1940-) was the son of a bank official.

Known for elegant and insightful prose, he once wrote, "Love is so holy, so confusing. It makes a man anxious, tormented. Love, how can I define it?"

His prolific writing career was short by the turmoil of his homeland's Cultural Revolution (19661976). The government banned his writing and he was forced for six years to become a farm laborer.

In secret, he continued to write, explaining: "Even during the most difficult times in China, I carried on writing secretly, without thinking that one day I would get published." he published his first novella in 1978.

Gao left China in 1987 to settle in France and wrote with passion. "Observing humans and observing oneself yields a clear-minded starting point for literature," he said.

His great novel Soul Mountain (1991) celebrated his miraculous cure following a lung cancer diagnosis, capturing the spirit and struggle of the individual's will to survive.

"I realized that Chinese history was a history of power. I became very interested in the sources of Chinese culture and I traveled to where the novel takes place to investigate for myself what those sources were," he explained in a 2003 Asia Society interview.

In December 2000, Gao became the first Chinese-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

With artistic innovation he also has created Zen-inspired visual masterpieces with India ink on rice paper. He said of his passion, "Painting starts where words fail or are inadequate in expressing what one wants to express."

With each word, an affirmation!