Although he is better known around the world as a playwright and novelist, Gao, 68, is celebrated among fine art connoisseurs as one of today’s giants in the ink-on-rice-paper medium. Like his writing, his paintings convey poetry, intellect and powerful narrative. At the same time, Gao, who was born in eastern China, is a master of ink technique, and his works exude a creative energy born of Chinese tradition while also being thoroughly universal and contemporary.
In the last five years, Gao’s main form of creative expression has been painting, which he does as a physical activity while listening to classical music, mostly Vivaldi, Kodaly and Bach. The mental and emotional anguish of writing has been blamed for his health issues, including heart problems that resulted in two rounds of open-heart surgery.