Qu grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and spent some time forced to work as a lumberjack after his parents were branded capitalists. Later, he attended Beijing University and served as an art director at China Central Television.
In 1979, as one of founding members of the avant-garde "Stars Group", together with Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Zhong Acheng and Ai Weiwei, Qu took part in the first exhibitions of contemporary art in China.
After Qu left China, he relocated to London to practice his art, lecture and exhibit internationally. The author of a number of books, including The Simple Art of Chinese Calligraphy, The Simple Art of Chinese Brush Painting and The Simple Art of Tai Chi, his paintings were exhibited at a solo display in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford in 2005, the first time in the Ashmolean Chinese exhibits that a show was devoted singly to the work of a living artist. Also in 2005, he was one of three finalists for the Arts Council England "Pearl Award for Creative Excellence".
- Yung Chang. (1996) Preface to A Visual Diary reproduced at redfern-gallery.com. Retrieved 19/03/08.
- James, Nicholas P. (12/11/2007). Small Histories. United Kingdom: C.V./Visual Arts Research. ISBN 1-905571-51-8. Check date values in:
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- Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the UK. (June 16, 2005) The Music of Ink: Chinese arts ancient and modern, Special event on Chinese Culture in British Museum chinese-embassy.org.uk. Retrieved 19/03/08.
- Asian Nouveau. (May 24, 2005) New work by Qu Lei Lei at the Ashmolean. asiannouveau.com. Retrieved 19/03/08.
- Arts Council England. (2005) 2005 finalists: Pearl Award for Creative Excellence pearlawards.org.uk Retrieved 19/03/08.
- Winchester, Rupert (Fall 2005). "Qu Lei Lei: Everyone's Life is an Epic". ArtAsiaPacific (46): 80. 17940479.
- Profile at Art for Humanity
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