Exuberant and vibrantly enigmatic, Zero Gravity No.1 is an exemplary piece from Qiu Xiaofei’s recent body of work that marks a significant evolution in the artist’s practice. After graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, Qiu first worked in a representational autobiographical and socio-critical style until around 2012, after which he shifted towards the abstract. The current work reflects a further development that combines the abstract and the figurative, fusing gestural expressiveness with recurring geometrical forms. In the present piece, crisply delineated spheres are juxtaposed against collisions of prismatic colours rendered in emotionally charged swathes, with the delicately levitated spheres emanating a luminous tranquility reminiscent of Calder’s mobiles. Suspended at strategic points within the dynamic and indeterminate swathes of paint, they appear to be – simultaneously – the stabilizing and destabilizing element within the composition, embodying a liminal stillness whilst at the same time threatening to tumble towards the edge of the painting. Such a striking aesthetic explores interrelated binaries of control and disorder, the rational and irrational, and the artist’s personal subconscious and that of the socially regulated. The embodied sensorial tension and visual confliction encapsulate Qiu Xiaofei’s singular mature abstract vocabulary that functions as personal and social reflection; in the artist’s own words: “For me my paintings are products of my childhood and what I experienced in the Chinese society, social progress that I’ve witnessed, and the knowledge that I’ve absorbed shape the way I paint. These two elements are kind of like the double pendulums in my painting system” (Interview with Jane Stone, SinoVision Journal Online video, 22 March 2016).