If exhibiting Chen Qi’s work has been an experiment, understanding Chen Qi is even more so. Regarding an artist with a rich and acknowledged corpus of works, among which many are endorsed by discourses in art history, people already hold presumptions. Yet, I rather believe that these propositions are mingled with stereotypes – outstanding artists surpass preformed conclusions and biases, always leaving space for more creative understanding of his works. As soon as the approach itself is experimental enough, a refreshing view of Chen Qi’s work will unravel before us. The curation of this exhibition is precisely such a challenge for me. My objective is to subvert the secured narratives about Chen Qi as a perfectionist and to depict him as someone with vision and creativities vibrant and extensive. Nor would I discuss in length about the spirit of ink and water in water printing, I would, however, capture the photorealism in his works. In Chen Qi, I see an abstractionist and even a conceptualist; a passionate painter who is skeptical about painting.
Based on this curatorial tactic, we organized nine subjects, or nine keywords in two exhibition rooms, which are also nine tunnels of comprehension.
On the 8th floor, we see artworks that are more familiar to most of us. ‘Treatise on Superfluous Things’ unfolds the course of the artist’s spiritual practice that scrutinizes and reflects upon objects. ‘Mind-Seal’ focuses on how gaze directed at objective phenomenon gives birth to the power of symbolic meanings. ‘Glistering Ripples’ presents how matter or landscape stretch into the entire world. As one end of ‘Wormholes’ leads to cosmology, the other opens to tangible traces. History of time incarnates and drizzles down, turning into dappled light. The works here are perfect in techniques, full of momentum. A monumentality permeates the space.
On the 28th floor, we walk into a headstrong, romantic, mad and deconstructive Chen Qi. ‘Exposure’ is the admiration for process. There are plenty of moments worth stopping over on the road to presentation. ‘Loner’ tries to archaeologically excavate from the earliest phase of the artist’s career the genes leading to his later works, frenetically venturing out into reformulating a progressing practice as pre-constructed, presuming all future works to be a memory and therefore denying the sequence of time. ‘Rumination’ continues this effort. As the artist’s work develops into a greater scale, it begins to grow reproductively like artificial intelligence forming self-consciousness and losing control. In ‘chaos’, Chen Qi becomes a violent maker of trace who is constantly concerned with abstract art. What ulterior motives must he harbor when presenting to us refined and familiar natural scenes, wearing a patient and sarcastic smile? ‘Landscape’ is a reconciliation. Objective phenomenon, memory, movement and light, meditation and investigation arrive at concrete incidents of time-and-space in a loner’s journey, here and now, there and then, still being.
The nine tunnels of comprehension extend in different layers above and across one another, winding, weaving – crosses and links. Together they build a Borges’ garden of forking paths, and in it every tunnel continues to extend and sprawl. Such an experiment in comprehending and exhibiting Chen Qi’s works wouldn’t clarify for us Chen Qi’s practice. Instead, it becomes more animate and dynamic, becoming an expanse of glistering ripples. Our endeavor for comprehending Chen Qi’s works is destined to confront the powerlessness of language in an endless rumination.
——Curator Qiu Zhijie
1969 Born in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province. P.R.CHINA.
1992 Graduated from China Academy of Art. Printmaking department, hangzhou,China .
Dean and Professor of The School of Experimental Art, Central Academy of Arts,Bejing.
Professor of China Academy of Art, The school of inter-medial Art. Mentor of MA and PHD.
As artist, Qiu Zhijie known for his calligraphy and ink painting, photography , video, installation and performance. He try to link the Chinese literati Tradition and contemporary media, as well as the self cultivation and social participation, as he called the Total Art. His major solo show include: 2013 Unicorn and Dragon, Querini Stampalia Foundation, 2012 Blue Print in WDW art centre, Rotterdam; 2009 Twilight of the Idols, Haus of World Culture, Berlin; 2009 Breaking Through The Ice, Ullens Contemporary Art Center, Beijing; 2008 A Suicidology of The Nanjing Yangzi River Bridge 1 -Ataraxic of Zhuang Zi, Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art,Shanghai.
Group exhibitions included:2014 San Polo Biennial; 2013 Goteburg Biennale, 2009 53th Venice Biennal, Chinese Pavillion; 2008 A QUESTION OF EVIDENCE Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary，Vienna;2007 The Real Things: Contemporary Chinese Art, Tate Liverpool, UK;2006 6th Gwuangju Biennale, Korea; 2005 Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohama, Japan; 2004 Tecnology of Visible: 5th Shanghai Biennial. Shanghai Art Museum,Shanghai;2003 Tower of Babel, Mainz City Museum, Germany;2002 25th San Polo Biennial. Etc.
As art writer, Qiu already published several books include: the image and post modernism, 2002; Give Me a Mask, 2003; The Limit of The Freedom, 2003, The photography after Photography, 2004; On Total Art,2012 etc. His catalog of works include: Breaking through the Ice, 2009; The Shape of time, 2007; Archeology of Memory, 2006,etc. He was the curator of the first Video art exhibition in China 1996, and series of young generation Chinese artists exhibition named ”Post-sense Sensibility” during 1999-2005. In 2012 he was the chief curator of 9th Shanghai Biennale “Reactivation”. In 2017 he curated the Chinese Pavilion of Venice Biennale.
Chen Qi has a doctoral degree in Fine Arts. He is Professor, Doctoral Advisor, and Vice-Director of School of Graduate Studies at Central Academy of Fine Arts. He is a member of the Exhibition Advisory Committee at National Art Museum of China, member of Prints Art Committee of Chinese Artists Association, General Secretary of the Printmaking Academy by the National Painting Academy of China, and Visiting Professor of Renmin University of China.
Chen Qi’s artworks have won the Bronze Award and Outstanding Award continuously at the 7th, 8th, and 9th National Art Exhibition; and won the Golden Award at the 13th National Print Exhibition; and won the Award of Excellency at the 5th Beijing International Biennale. Chen Qi’s artworks have been collected by institutions including the National Art Museum of China, Shanghai Art Museum, Guangdong Museum of Art, Jiangsu Art Museum, Zhejiang Art Museum, Hubei Museum of Art, the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen Art Museum, Harbin Art Palace Printmaking Museum, British Museum (England), Victoria and Albert Museum (England), Ashmolean Museum (England), Sotheby’s Institute of Art (England), New York Public Library (USA), Fukuoka Art Museum (Japan), Museum of Young Art (Vienna, Austria), Muban Foundation in Europe, etc. Chen Qi’s publications include Printmaking Techniques, Selected Artworks of Chen Qi, Selected Woodblcok Print of Chen Qi, Notations of Time: Chen Qi 1983-2013, Divine Engravers and Painting Masters, The Techniques and Idea of Chinese Woodblock Art, etc.