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“Perseverance, Creativity and Tradition” is the most sought after qualities that make an artist intrinsically talented…. with explosive lively colorful expression extrinsically…”- Xu Ye Fen-Qing Dynasty (許葉芬 year1859~?) -great great grandfather of Sophia Gao.


“道可道,非常道。名可名,非常名。無名天地之始,有名萬物之母。” .Translation, I would say that it is almost impossible, or improbable that anyone could surgically, precisely pin point to her very own original artistic existence. For the least, not without looking at her long and formidable lineage art grandmaster tradition of ancestor. The genealogical tree is as impressive as her creative painting, “something out of nowhere” as an astonished patron, a friend and an inspirator to her.


A quick review of her curriculum vitae, I was impressed by her “The China Central Academy of Fine Arts” (中央美術學院) B.A.diploma. Graduated in 2005. With several awards already under her belt. Her passion is definitely, “Creative paintings”.


“Art (Paintings) is lifeless without the skill to integrate the color. Paintings that are creating a visualizable harmony. (Transcendence) an all empassing experience of internal mindfulness”. She further clarified,” Consciously or subconsciously”. She recalled vividly how her grandfather Xu Zhi Xiong (許枝雄 Year1909-2014) taught her about the fundamental of art. Her mother sent her to Beijing Shi Cha Hai (什刹海), as a live-in art apprentice for a good part of 8 years. Well and hard trained. Grandmaster Xu Zhi Xiong is a companion to many famous contemporary caligraphers and artists, such as Qi Gong (启功)、Wang Xue Tao (王雪涛)、Wu Guang Yu (吴光宇)、Ren Shuai Ying (任率英)、Tian Shi Guang (田世光and Huang Jun (黄均).


“My great-great grandfather - Xu Ye Fen (許葉芬 Year1859-?), was an influential traditional Chinese painting-calligraphy grandmaster, he enjoyed almost equal status and reputation as “The Ming- Qing Dynasty Great-Eight Grandmasters”. Spoke in soft voice, in a humble tone, and showing the proud genealogical pedigree tree record (族譜) of her great Manchurian heritage.


Xu Ye Fen was a great Qing scholar and his highest official ranking was “Inspector Curator General for Qing’s History and Art”(光緒十五年進士、翰林院編修、國史館總纂官、國史館畫官、江蘇蘇州府知府).


Xu Lin Cun (許林邨 Year1913-2005) is her granduncle , a famous comtemporary  Chinese  artist and calligragher . He wrote the euology for the late “Lao She”-(老舍, a renowned author for Teahouse). His old residence in Beijing still has his very own hand-crafted wood couplets-卜居積水,世守硯田. I still remember that, till now, attracted many tourists attention.


“May be it is (blood) in me. It did not take me more than a fraction of second to make a decision about my path. If that’s where I was coming from, then there (art) I will be going”

Xu Ye Fen(許葉芬 Year1859-? )

Xu Ye Fen(許葉芬 Year1859-? )

Xu Lin Cun (許林邨 Year1913-2005)

“…and my great grandfather Xu Lian Bu (Year?-1945) had inherited his talent and passed it on to late Xu Zhi Xiong (許枝雄 Year1909-2014), my grandfather, who was a grandmaster of Chinese painting-calligraphy."

Xu Zhi Xiong ( 許枝雄 Year1909-2014 )

It is a great surpised to discover that her ancestor, grand father Gao Qin Hao (Year1901-1972) was an established surgeon and his father, Gao Tian You (Year 1869-1925)was the very first few Chinese Christian Evangelist pastor in the then, Qing Dynasty, a much self inclusive, kingdom least known to the occidental world.”It is hard for an occidentalist to understand the orientalistic arts presentation. But an art is an art, regardless whether it is in the West or the East.”  She opined.


Her creation-paintings, created with life and soul, however is not enigmatic.


At the most, similar to Monet-impressionist once said “No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition”.

A quick glance through her profile and gallery, I certainly could at once, recognize her talent with color and composition, masterfully blending in both of the secondary learnt great western precise painting skills and techniques, and the primary inborn easterner’s, unpredictably seamless Zen way of painting.


When asked about her thought about the most attractive element of a successful artist. That’s what she told me:


“Perseverance”.  She instantly replied, “Perseverance”.


“Failure is the only genuine partner of success, like a pair of chopstick”.


She smiled. “I need both!”






Sophia Gao


Toronto, ON, Canada


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