Canada : Xiong Gu


A Moment

In our life,
Time is counted by seconds,
Minutes, hours, days,
Months, years and centuries;
Past, present and future.
Time is long, yet it is short.

A place - a river,
Holds myriad memories
Of times gone by.

Qingping is a small village.
It sits beside a small, green river
In the mountains of Southwest China.

When the Cultural Revolution was roused,
I was sent to there when I was eighteen.
I was sent, along with millions of youth
From urban centres to these isolated villages
To be "re-educated" by peasants.

Four years went by as a labourer;
Four years of suffering and isolation,
Four long years of creation and revelation.
I started to draw my daily life;
I gave my love to art and in turn,
Art guided me through the darkness.
This is how it came to be,
That Qingping owns a part of me.

My dream -
To show Qingping to my daughter.

A moment in time:
In a small motor boat,
We were travelling on the Qingping River,
The heavy rain beat down,
Unil the water was swollen.
What emotions! - to see this place again.

In an instant,
Our boat collided with a cargo boat,
It immediately capsized and flipped over.
My family and I
Were trapped inside the boat as it began to sink.

I escaped from a hole inside the boat;
I opened my eyes but I couldn't see any thing,
Except the swollen water.
At last, I was breaking the surface of the river,
I saw my family around the sinking boat,
And my daughter's hair beside the boat;
Unmoving, dying.

I was screaming!
I felt a kind of pain I had never felt before.
My cousin and I pulled my daughter out of the boat.
Her head was down and she had no breath.
I shook her body,
Finally she spewed water from her chest
Returning to life.

We were fortunate to be pulled out of the water,
By an old local fisherman.
We survived.

I felt when I neared death
Time was still.
It was like a long scroll painting;
In this painting,
I saw the past, the present and the future,
All at once.
People of the world were in the river,
Trying to survive.
There was no beginning and no end;
There was only a moment.

A place
A dream
A river
A boat
A moment
A breath
A new life


Gu Xiong
June 2000


All cultures are complex, of course, but the one into which you are born is the one you come to understand most profoundly. Thus, this influence is what finds its way into the work of an artist, and I believe it is expressed almost instinctively. If a person should move to another culture, he or she must make both a conscious and instinctive adjustment in seeking to understand what at first is a strange new world. It is within this dynamic milieu that I currently find myself. This relatively sudden generation of "artistic electricity" is fuelling change in both my personal life and my work as a professional artist.

This inevitable conflict of two cultures with my "artistic being" has entered my work since coming to Canada permanently. There seems to be to be a new synthesis for me.


Gu Xiong



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