Lot 193
  • 193

Qiu Shihua

100,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Qiu Shihua
  • Untitled
  • signed in Chinese and dated September 1999 

  • oil on canvas
  • 71 1/4 by 151 1/8 in. 181 by 384 cm.


Acquired by the present owner directly from the artist


New York, Chambers Fine Art, Insight: Paintings by Qiu Shihua, April - May 2005, similar works exhibited and illustrated

Catalogue Note

The art of Qiu Shihua exists at the boundaries of perception, challenging the painter’s capabilities no less than the capacities of visual perception in the viewer.  Qiu began his training at the Xi’an Art Academy in 1958 but was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when he was sent to work in a coal-mining town where he lived until 1984.  As Pan Qing suggested in a review of the artist’s first American solo exhibition published in Art in America, “Perhaps the uncertainty brought by the social upheavals of his era led Qiu to focus his attention inward, towards a more peaceful, eternal world….  A devoted Taoist since 1989, Qiu’s artwork also mirrors the spirit (if not the material form) of the Chinese literati tradition, in which the act of painting is a path to transcendence.” 

 The work on offer features a subtlety of surface coloration that is all but imperceptible – until the perfect lighting and viewer concentration reveal the imagery within.  A vast, gossamer-like linen support features delicate tonalities in bluish-green and gray, though a quick glance reveals only a monochromatic work.  Qiu relies upon suggestion rather than mimetic realism, and it is the viewer’s personal experience of viewing both painting and nature itself that suggests the landscape panorama Qiu conjures in this remarkably refined work. 

The nearest comparisons to Qiu’s practice are the minimalist “black paintings” of Ad Reinhardt’s later years, which offer subtle color variations to viewers who pause to contemplate what initially seem only black squares.  Qiu pushes Reinhard’s practice even further, to an evanescence that is utterly remarkable in the medium of painting.  In the quiet contemplation of Qiu’s work, we as viewers may also experience a sense of the transcendental that inspires this highly original master.