Lot 522
  • 522

Qiu Deshu

40,000 - 60,000 HKD
37,500 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Qiu Deshu
  • Empty No.1
  • ink and colour on paper, framed
  • 53.2 by 105 cm; 20⅞ by 41⅜ in.
titled in Chinese and dated 1982


Formerly in the C. C. I. C. Collection, Hong Kong
Collection of Jean and Michael Micketti, Denver


USA, New York City, China Institute Gallery, Blooming in the Shadows: Unofficial Chinese Art 1974-1985, 15 September-11 December, 2011, p. 105
Hong Kong, Asia Society, Light before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art 1974-1985, 15 May – 1 September, 2013, p. 161

Catalogue Note

The CaoCao Group: A milestone for contemporary art in China

Although less well known than the 1979 and 1980 'Xingxing' (Star Star) exhibitions in Beijing, the 1980 CaoCao (Grass Society) group exhibition in Shanghai was a milestone for the emergence of contemporary art in China. Led by Chen Jialing (see Lots 523 & 546) and Qiu Deshu, the exhibition was immediately denounced for its 'abstract tendencies' and Qiu was severely criticized as the leader of the independent initiative. Ironically, the following year paintings by Jackson Pollack from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston were exhibited in a major display at the Shanghai Art Museum, from which Chen, Qiu and contemporaries gained confidence in their commitment to abstraction and pursuing innovation. Such early examples collectively represent a dynamic moment in China's history when creativity began to flourish after decades of isolation and was untarnished by marketplace incentives.

The two present lots by Qiu Deshu illustrate the experimental leaps in the 1980s. Empty No. 1 (1982) is a bold deconstruction of ink painting in its gestural, abstract ink-wash and display of torn seal marks as focal elements.  Considering the seal mark as a symbol of the self in China, he sought to break through the confinement of cultural tradition. His formal breakthrough with his distinctive fissuring technique began in 1982 with the added element of dense colour and torn paper collage. The twisted, vibrant forms in Rift and Cracks No. 12 (1988) seem to be human portraits caught in abstraction and exude a metaphorical release of great energy through high contrasting colours on canvas and ripped paper.  Such anthropomorphic imagery is most representative of this period for the artist's creative development.