A swirling sky of red, blue, and green encircles a yellow sun in the top left corner of this oil painting. Dotted lines of sunlight emanate from the sun and scatter over a landscape of rolling hills, depicted with thick, wavy strokes of paint in orange and pink. The vibrant colours and visible brushstrokes convey a sense of energy and dynamism. With its abstraction and expressiveness, River of Light breaks free from the realistic style of painting that was dominant in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), a period when artists were given strict guidelines on what they could portray.
Feng Guodong is recognised as one of the earliest artists in China who sought to develop his own style in the 1970s. His continuous experimentation with the techniques and visual language of European art movements became one of the defining characteristics of his work.
Feng Guodong (born in Guangzhou, 1948–2005) participated in the fine art training course at the Beijing Working People’s Culture Palace, where he met Wang Luyan and other artists who played an important role in the 85 New Wave Movement. A member of the Beijing Oil Painting Research Association, Feng’s paintings reference the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists; he was in pursuit of individual artistic freedom and social democracy, a form of resistance to the ideology of official art during the Cultural Revolution.