• William Hu

Huang Guofu: The Armless Painter

In 1975, rural child Huang Guofu had the shock of his life. At the young age of four, he grabbed onto a dangling wire and his life was forever changed. Hands blistering and unrecognizable, the shock could have ended his life. Fortunately, he survived the horrific accident at the expense of his arms. Having lost both arms, Guofu’s resilience persevered. At the age of 12, he began to develop an interest in painting. With no arms to paint with, he looked to do the unconventional: he began to paint with his feet. 

Guofu had always admired the rustic scenery around him. Walking through the rural streets of China, he wanted to recreate what he saw. To his dismay, at the age of 18, his father became ill and was slowly dying. His father was diagnosed with cancer and needed treatment. Deprived of wealth, Guofu looked to painting as an answer. 

He quit his studies and travelled around the country, practicing his craft. As he went city by city, people bought his paintings. Guofu successfully began raising money for his father’s treatment, despite painting with his feet. During his trek, he tried to hold the paintbrush with his mouth and found he had more control. Developing his unique painting style, he found success in his journey.

More than this, he began to help out others. Following a devastating flood in Hu Nan, he began to raise money to help those who struggled. Having raised around $900, he donated every penny to help victims of the flood. 

Guofu developed a following, one on a global scale. At the age of 41, he became the vice-curator of Chongqing Talents Museum. Despite having to paint with his mouth and feet, his art undeniably resonates with others. Full of detail and mastery, his art pierces traditional methods. 

Today, his passion inspires fellow artists. In an interview, Guofu explained, “When life closes one door to you, it must have opened another at the same time”. With his words in mind, take a moment to appreciate the world’s subtleties. There will be rainy days and there will be sunny days. Cherish everyday and be optimistic. After all, we only live once. 





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