Writings From Himalaya, Rugir, 2023, Paris

Dimensions 95 x 120 cm

The series of works, Writings from Himalaya, forms a new stage in the circular journey travelled by the work of Gao Bo along the possible routes uniting Himalaya to us. ‘Us’ means the here and now, the present condition, the very place where the visitor stands before the work itself, measuring the distance and proximity of Gao Bo’s works. Himalaya, on the other hand, is a physical place, with an age-long history and a vast aesthetic and spiritual heritage. But for the visitor, in most cases, it is a remote place, in both space and time, one that belongs yet again to those cultural categories that European hegemony uses to define the hierarchy in which to place the ‘other’.  

In his entire research process, the artist is building an opposition to this narrative. He does it through both the political tension that animates his works, and through the poetic strength that creates a space in which to include the observer and immerse them in a dialogue. Writings from Himalaya synthesises this vision, displaying portraits of Tibetan citizens on the gallery walls, in the way now familiar to those who know Gao Bo’s work. The surface of the photograph is a field on which the creator works, using a succession of symbols to emphasise the subjectivity of the person portrayed, in contrast to the supposed scientific method of anthropological enquiry and its objectifying gaze.

The writing superimposed on the image belongs to no known idiom, since, as Gao Bo maintains, “there is no language that is not dangerous”. This reflection gives rise to the creation of a language of graphemes, formed of Latin, Chinese and Tibetan characters, which becomes the location for a free reading, without echoes of abuse or oppression. 

Pietro Gaglianò

Printing from original photographs by the artist, taken in Tibet between 1995 and 2003.  UV-cured inks on rigid dibond medium of 3 mm vertical brushed aluminium; 6 cm frame in solid wood Koto, black China Ink Shade.