Pearl Lam Galleries will present a solo exhibition that explores both recent and historical works by Chinese abstract artist Qiu Deshu (b. 1948) that span four decades of his career in a curated exhibition by Philip Dodd, former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London.
Qiu Deshu has played an important role in Chinese art over the last 35 years. He was the driving force behind one of the early movements of independent art post-Mao through the group he co-founded, the Grass Painting Society. From early on in his career, he was internationally recognised for his remarkable work, and has been collected by major museums, including the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. He was one of the seminal Chinese artists of the 1980s, who made groundbreaking experimental ink art. Qiu encountered early in China the art of major Western painters, such as Jackson Pollock, and developed his own artistic territory due in his 'fissuring' technique that transcends medium and subject to both honour his cultural heritage and simultaneously reject it.
Night and Day is Qiu Deshu’s first one-person show at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong and, appropriately, it has an ambitious career-length character with the earliest work a stunning 1979 piece entitled 'Abstract Calligraphy', representations of his seminal works from the 1980s and 1990s, and more recent work that reinvents landscape painting.
Achieving independence has been an overriding ambition in Qiu Deshu's work. This exhibition has been curated to show the variety of forms, inclusive of Western and Chinese resources, through which that struggle has taken place. Through his career Qiu has used collage as a form of ‘creative destruction’ as well as the influence of early ‘Abstract Expressionism’ to transform the traditional language of ink painting to make something resolutely contemporary.
It was in the 1980s that Qiu devised his signature technique of tearing Xuan paper, reconfiguring the pieces and mounting them to form images, creating lines, or “fissures” as he aptly coins his personalised style. The process of creation, destruction, and recreation conveys aspects of the artist’s experiences of an early education in traditional Chinese painting, and of life through the Cultural Revolution. By making inventive use of its hue, delicacy, pliability, and water permeability, he rubs and carves the delicate Xuan paper, slowly building on top of a base layer of coloured Xuan paper that is mounted on the canvas. This unique approach is similar to the technique used in scroll mounting, but while his work is indebted to Chinese landscape traditions, Qiu has consistently pushed their boundaries to form a contemporary idiom of creative expression.
“Qiu Deshu’s work is a revelation—a genuinely experimental artist, he has revised both the traditions of Chinese and Western painting to produce something distinctive which has enabled him to explore the inner freedom that has been his life ambition.” — Philip Dodd, Curator
“I am delighted to present this major Qiu Deshu retrospective exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong for one of China’s most important abstract artists. Philip Dodd’s curatorial direction brings the artist’s unique fissuring technique, and his impact on art history, the academic attention it deserves.” — Pearl Lam, Founder of Pearl Lam Galleries