Qiu-Anxiong: Animated Narratives
Crow Collection of Asian Art
October 15, 2011 through February 5, 2012
A series of paintings becomes part of unique videos in Qiu Anxiong: Animated Narratives, a solo exhibition opening October 15 at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Emerging Shanghai-based artist Qiu Anxiong uses a stop-motion animation technique to create an ever-changing series of hauntingly beautiful moving images that range from mythical stories to urban transformation. Two videos will be on view in the Garden Gallery and the Mezzanine, and a selection of Qiu’s paintings will be on display in LinkAsia. Qiu Anxiong: Animated Narratives will run through February 5, 2012.
Admission to the Crow Collection is free.
The black-and-white paintings and videos in the exhibition offer insight into Qiu’s process – from how he creates an image in paint, how it evolves and is recorded, to its final result in video. Although the paintings are acrylic on canvas, they appear at first glance to be ink paintings. The landscape images in particular refer to traditional Chinese landscape scroll painting, marked by craggy mountains and still lakes. In some of his videos, Qiu shows the transformation of an idyllic natural landscape to one that is polluted, industrialized and urban.
Qiu Anxiong: Animated Narratives is an intertwined journey filled with powerful imagery, personified transformations and allegories, and compelling historic parallels to today’s realities. Qiu’s style is quite contemporary and innovative, yet reflects his traditional native Chinese culture with hints of German influence stemming from his six-year stint to attend college.
Qiu was born in Sichuan Province, where he studied at the Sichuan Art Academy until 1994. After completing further study in Kassel, Germany, he returned to China to settle in Shanghai. Qiu came to international prominence when his work was shown at the Shanghai Biennial in 2006. In addition, he has shown work at contemporary art biennials in Sydney, Thessaloniki, Seoul, São Paulo, Busan and Nanjing. With a video titled New Book of the Mountains and Seas, 2006, he was able to capture an approach to tradition in China at a time when few artists were considering the subject.
“These days, most people consider new and old to be mutually exclusive concepts. The new is completely novel; the old, totally outdated,” said Qiu AnXiong. “No one has really thought deeply enough about the intimate relationship between the new and the old. Most people in China automatically equate new with all things Western.”
Qiu uses stop-motion animation, one of the first special-effect technologies invented, to illustrate his perspective. Stop-motion animation is a simple but sophisticated and meticulous medium used to impart life to a seemingly still sequence of images, relying on the human’s persistence of vision. Unlike computered animation, each frame is created and photographed independently. Today, stop-motion animation is relatively offbeat but has become streamlined, perhaps a parallel to Qiu’s perception toward old and new. One can argue that Qiu’s art, through both his chosen medium and subjects, sets out to question prevailing assumptions about tradition and change in Chinese society.