Qiu Anxiong: Animated Narratives

Exhibition open from Sat Oct 15 2011 to Mon Feb 06 2012

Qiu-Anxiong-5

This exhibition of work by emerging Shanghai-based artist Qiu Anxiong includes paintings and video art. Qiu’s unique videos are created by a stop-motion animation technique from images of his paintings. Together the paintings and videos in this exhibition offer insight into Qiu’s process: how he creates an image in paint, how it evolves and is recorded, and its final result in video as part of an ever-changing series of images. The result is hauntingly beautiful moving images that range from mythical stories to urban transformation.

“These days, most people consider new and old to be mutually exclusive concepts. The new is completely novel; the old, totally outdated….No one has really thought deeply enough about the intimate relationship between the new and the old. Most people in China automatically equate new with all things Western.” 

Although the paintings are acrylic on canvas, they appear at first glance to be ink paintings. The landscape images in particular refer to traditional Chinese landscape scroll paintings, with their craggy mountains and still lakes. In some of his videos, Qiu shows the transformation of an idyllic natural landscape to one that is polluted, industrialized, and urban.

Qiu came to international prominence when his work was shown in the 2006 Shanghai Biennial. With a video titled New book of the Mountains and Seas, 2006, he was able to capture an approach to tradition in China at a time when few artists were considering the subject. He writes: “These days, most people consider new and old to be mutually exclusive concepts. The new is completely novel; the old, totally outdated….No one has really thought deeply enough about the intimate relationship between the new and the old. Most people in China automatically equate new with all things Western.”  One can argue that Qiu’s art, through both his chosen medium and subjects, sets out to question prevailing assumptions about tradition and change in Chinese society.

Qiu Anxiong was born in 1976 in Sichuan Province, where he studied at the Sichuan Art Academy until 1994. After completing further study in Kassel, Germany, he returned to China to settle in Shanghai. He has shown his work internationally, including in contemporary art biennials in Sydney, Thessaloniki, Seoul, Sáo Paulo, Busan, and Nanjing.