TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese entertainer and artist Kuo Yen-fu (郭彥甫) has been exhibiting his latest work, “Luggage,” at the Louvre Museum in Paris and has just returned home to Taipei.
Having given up a profitable career as a pop singer, model and TV show host, Kuo said he has chosen to work as an artist because it is a passion he has had since childhood.
Even so, Kuo has thrived without having professional artistic training. Instead he learned painting skills from books and through keen observation during his youth.
Since his family could not afford the cost of art school, he studied at Taipei Physical Education College (台北市立體育學院). Even so, this did not stop him from drawing daily.
Kuo Yen-fu and his portrait of Colin Jackson. He gave the artwork to the athlete to show his respect. (Yuan Ru Gallery photo)
“When drawing, I am relaxed and happy. It is a completely pressure-free period of time.
"However, I have been thinking, what is the difference between painting and art? After working in the glamorous entertainment business, I have found my own answer,” Kuo said.
His looks and talent have made him well known and the demands of showbiz meant he needed to travel a lot. This gave him the opportunity to meet many different kinds of people from various cultural backgrounds.
His artwork is the result of encountering culture differences, and his life stories are the soul and inspiration behind his paintings. Geographical and historical research of the countries he visits also help make his works unique.
As a public figure, humanity and privacy intrigue him tremendously. His work “Luggage,” at the Louvre, is an artistic interpretation of his observations on human psychology.
“I used to see suitcases at airports or hotel rooms. Then, I discovered the inside of a handbag reveals the owner’s personality, secrets and social status.
"However, when I draw suitcases, 70 percent depends on my imagination, which distinguishes the work from a brand show,” said Kuo.
Kuo Yen-fu and a portrait of his own suitcase. (Yuan Ru Gallery photo)
“After becoming an actor, I started to study people’s behavior and psychology. In doing so, it enabled me to discover my emotions and perform.
"Also, in this business, I have seen some ugly behavior. Sometimes I felt down, lost and disappointed, so I amplified these emotions and expressions through art,” Kuo said.
Despite the disappointments, Kuo says he still has faith in humanity. He believes there is a gray area between being a good or a bad man, and views humanity with a sense of humor.
When addressing serious topics such as humanity, privacy, and psychology, Kuo's approach is to handle the subjects with humor and art. He encourages people to stay young at heart and stay open-minded.
According to Kuo, we are all born for a reason so must never give up on what we want to do. It is important, he said, to live your life well and be in touch with one's senses and feelings.
Be childish, sensitive and keen, he added. It's ok if one does not understand the artwork in front of you because when the time is right, you will realize.
After traveling to France, the artwork “Luggage” has returned to Taiwan. Suitcases and people in airports have become extended themes in his New Year solo exhibition “Return Home” that showcases 18 large-scale works at Yuan Ru Gallery until Jan. 9.
Kuo Yen-fu's "A cup of coffee, a trip home." (Yuan Ru Gallery photo)
Kuo Yen Fu's mixed media work. (Yuan Ru Gallery photo)