Zizhong, Sichuan Province, China
|Education||Xi'an Academy of Fine Art, Xi'an|
|Known for||Landscape painting|
Life and work
This is classical Chinese landscape painting: drifting clouds, horizontally spreading fog banks forming empty spaces, precipitous cliffs and jagged crags, perhaps a few weather-beaten trees, a waterfall; water breaking on the rocks; ink that seems to cling organically to the paper, yet still appears liquid. The Chinese for landscape is shan-shui; shan means mountain and shui water. The aim of traditional landscape painting was to create a harmonious union of these two elements.
Qiu Shihua was born in 1940 in Sichuan Province, but today lives and works in the new city of Beijing and Shenzhen. As one of the artists who enjoyed the privilege of foreign travel, he visited France in the 1980s and studied the works of the Impressionists. Qiu underwent an incredible development in the course of the 1990s, moving from traditional landscape painting to find a very personal style. An un-trained eye might find in his work little more than an almost unmodulated white, but his minimalist style of painting has nothing in common with the forms of expression from Western art history. The paintings seem Impressionist, but the Impressionists’ ideals---the view from out-side, the pure appearance of the outside world on the retina—are the opposite of Qiu’s. Rather, he represents the landscape—or what is left of it—as an expression of the soul. Nor are his white paintings obligated to abstraction or monochromatism. Qiu certainly abstracts from reality, goes to the limits in reducing the recognizable world, but it is always there somewhere; all his pictures remain figurative. They are radical within the category of landscape painting. They follow no systematic, conceptual search for the fundamentals of painting, of the kind Robert Ryman pursues in his works, for example. Qiu Shihua’s paintings originate in traditional Chinese landscape painting. They were initially done on paper, then paper mounted on canvas, and most recently, canvas (ungrounded or almost ungrounded). The formats grew and grew. Slightly speckled oil paint spreads out across the paper or canvas.
The painting seems to be behind a veil. The landscape reveals itself gradually to the concentrated and patient viewer: cliffs, water, and woodland. Like classical Chinese landscapes, Qiu Shihua’s pictures are exempt from the laws of central perspective. There is no recognizable center, neither a horizontal nor a vertical axis, no left or right, perhaps not even an up and a down. In a few brief sentences the artist describes his “philosophy”—and in this case the term really is justified. “For me north, south, east, or west count for nothing, nor do red, yellow, or blue, and certainly not past, present, or future. With endless emptiness in the heart there is neither coming not going; they are one and the same. So are my works too: simple and pale, calm and empty. All being and non-being is hidden in them, completely self-contained. In the zero condition the original countenance of the soul reveals itself.” Like the old Chinese masters, Qiu paints an inner world. The atmospheric perspective invites the eyes to roam over emptiness, a roving that permits nothing more than a diaphanous, mystical presentiment of another world. “According to Qiu, his working process grounds on the premise of forgetting about such painterly matters as motive, technique, emotion, thus achieving pure sensuality in the void space from which the image must emerge rather than construct itself.” In their method, Qiu Shihua’s white paintings follow a tradition that goes back more than a thousand years, but in their appearance they seem radically modern, even provocative. They are timeless, offer a wealth of perceptive possibilities, and can be regarded as one of the most interesting and certainly least expected contributions to painting in the past ten to fifteen years.
His works have been exhibited in shows including the 48th Venice Biennale, the 23rd São Paulo Art Biennial, the Kunsthalle Basel and the Exhibition "Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung Sigg" which has been shown in Europe and the U.S.A. Qiu Shihua is represented by Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne.
Qiu Shihua stands apart from not only these figurative painters but the whole maximalist surge in contemporary Chinese art. A product of the Xi’an Academy and a former sign painter, he was able to spend time in Europe and the U.S. in the late 1980s but owes his distinctive style to traditional Chinese painting precepts and his strong Taoist beliefs. Since the early 1990s he has specialized of off-white oil paintings that he says actually depict-through subtle gradations of tone- natural vistas derived from Chinese masters and the Impressionists. While Western viewers might relate his works to minimalism or conceptual art, Qiu intends his implicit landscapes to be neither purely retinal nor purely strategic. They are designed, rather, as topographies of the mind’s perceptions of the outer world, offering intimations of a spiritual dimension beyond the material.
It seemed like QiuShiHua's artwork crossed the performance, illusion and reality of the gap experience. He realizes this is through those same audience will be brought to the limit of the symbol of the real structure, and calling the real world person. The mystery of nature is to present the illusion of the representation of the limit test and wake up, so that the audience feel they are introduced to some more substantial than pure performance of the contact, in a western painting form of deducing the mysterious Oriental landscape between vegetation and artistic conception.
Chambers Fine Art is satisfied to declare the opening on April 14 of Knowledge: Artworks by Qiu Shihua. Admitting that broadly shown in Hong Kong and Europe, this is the first major shown of Qiu Shihua's work in the United States. Qiu Shihua is more advanced in years than the talented aggregate of craftsmen who first started to develop in the mid-1980s. He was conceived in Sichuan in 1940 and moved on from the Xi’an Foundation of Abstraction in 1962. His profession as a specialist was given the ax, in any case, by the Customary Upset (1966–1976) and it was not until 1984 that he was ready to move to Shenzhen where he is still based.
Unlike the younger crop of craftsmen who have for the most part played Judas on oil artwork, Qiu Shihua found his starting impulse in the French Impressionists whose work he saw in individual for the first time in the mid-1980s. In 1989, then again, a deep update happened. As John Tancock has recognized: "Following years of work of art in his spare time, he chose to give up his work and forsake the solaces of a middle class lifestyle. Inasmuch as he was a little person living in the areas he had been acquainted with the notions of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism but had not dove too profoundly into any of them. Once he had made the choice to come to be a solemn professional of Taoism, his work of art style altered totally, losing its moorings in practical reality and soaring into a more tenuous climate".
At the same time as the final twenty years Qiu Shihua's style has developed bit by bit from the earthbound to the insignificant, from dim views dependent upon remembrances of his youth in north-west China to the tenuous environment of his latest works. Prefer the dark works of art of Notice Reinhardt or some of the more propelling works of James Turrell, Qiu Shihua's enchanted compositions need time and tolerance for the subtle alterations in tone to enroll. As he has said: "Everything is flat and calm. ‘Form’ is unimportant. It is like being in meditation, when the entire cosmos looks like a white mist. Here, time and space seem to be annihilated. Human passions do not matter." 
- Nationalgalerie Berlin, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern (Eds.), (2012). Qiu Shihua. Duesseldorf: Richter & Fey, 2012.
- Kunsthalle Basel (Ed.) (1999). Qui Shi-hua. Basel: Schwabe & Co. AG Verlag.
- Mao, C. W. (Ed.). (2005). Insight. Paintings by Qiu Shihua. New York: Chambers Fine Art.
- Galerie Rudolfinum (Ed.) (2000). Qiu Shi-hua. Landscape Painting. Prague.
- Berswordt-Wallrabe, S. von (2014). Verflüchtigung und Konkretion. Die Malerei von Qiu Shihua – im Hinblick auf die Bernwardtür. In: Michael Brandt, Gerd Winner (Hrsg.): Übergänge / Transitions. Gotthard Graubner – Bernwardtür – Qiu Shihua, exh. cat. Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, Hildesheim 2014, pp. 48–57.
- Berswordt-Wallrabe, S. von (2012). Between presence and absence. Qiu Shihua's landscape painting. In: Qiu Shihua (Cat. Nationalgalerie Berlin and Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern), Düsseldorf: Richter & Fey, pp. 10–45.
- Berswordt-Wallrabe, S. von (2012). At the Threshold of (In-)Visibility. The 'White' Landscape Paintings by Qiu Shihua. In: Birgit Hopfener, Franziska Koch, Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch, Juliane Noth (Eds.): Negotiating Difference. Contemporary Chinese Art in the Global Context (documenting an international conference held at Freie Universität Berlin/Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2009), Weimar 2012, pp. 87–97.
- Berswordt-Wallrabe, S. von (2010). Qiu Shihua. In: Weltsichten. Landschaft in der Kunst seit dem 17. Jahrhundert (Catalogue Situation Kunst Bochum, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Museum Wiesbaden, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht). Cologne: Wienand Verlag. pp. 260–262, 327.
- Gerlach, P. (2007). Qiu Shihua. In: Idylle. Traum und Trugschluss Idyll. Illusion and Delusion (Catalogue, Zybok, O. Ed.). Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag. pp. 204–207.
- Rasche, S. (2007). White Out – Künstlerische Expeditionen in ungesicherte Bereiche. In: White Out (Catalogue). Bregenz: Berufsvereinigung Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler Vorarlberg. pp. 34–36, 75.
- Tinari, P. (2007). Qiu Shihua. In: China Art Book. The 80 most renowned Chinese artists. Cologne: DuMont Buchverlag. pp. 296–303.
- Köppel-Yang, M. (1999). Qiu Shi-hua. Geschmack an der Fadheit. In: Qui Shi-hua (Kunsthalle Basel, Ed.). Basel: Schwabe & Co. AG Verlag.
- Tancock, J. (2005). Qiu Shi-hua. In: Insight. Paintings by Qiu Shihua (Catalogue, Mao, C. W., Ed.). New York: Chambers Fine Art.
- Lai Chi-Tim (2000). The Nature of the Dao. In: Qiu Shi-hua. Landscape Painting. Prague: Galerie Rudolfinum. pp. 7–9.
- Yan Shanchun (2000). ‘Landscape’ Painting in the Eyes of the Chinese. In: Qiu Shi-hua. Landscape Painting. Prague: Galerie Rudolfinum. pp. 11–21.
- Chang Tsong-zung (2000). The Sky in the Landscape. In: Qiu Shi-hua. Landscape Painting. Prague: Galerie Rudolfinum. pp. 23–30.
- Wechsler, M. (1999). Malerei am äussersten Rand. Langsamkeit der Malerei. In extremis. In: Qui Shi-hua (Kunsthalle Basel, Ed.). Basel: Schwabe & Co. AG Verlag.
- 2012/13 Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern
- 2012 Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin
- 2005 Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland
Insight: Paintings by Qiu Shihua, Chambers Fine Art, New York, NY, US
- 2004 Qiu Shihua, Künstlerverein Malkasten, Düsseldorf, Germany
- 2002 White Landscape, Pruss & Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Germany
- 2001 Landscape – Painting on the Edge of Visibility, Galleria OTSO, Espoo, Finland
- 2000 Qiu Shihua – Landscape Painting, Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic
- 1999 Qiu Shihua, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland
- 1997 Qiu Shihua, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China
- 1995 Qiu Shihua, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, China
- 1991 Qiu Shihua, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China
- 1990 Qiu Shihua, Alliance Française, Hong Kong, China
- 2010 "Weltsichten. Landschaft in der Kunst seit dem 17. Jahrhundert"; Situation Kunst (für Max Imdahl), Bochum; travelled to: Kunsthalle zu Kiel (2011), Museum Wiesbaden (2011), Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz (2012), Museum Dieselkraftwerk Cottbus (2012/13), Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht (2014), Weserburg Bremen (2015), Kunsthalle Rostock (2015)
- 2008 Qi Yun, ChinaSquare, New York
- 2007 "Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung Sigg", Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria
- Qi Yun – - "Qi Yun - the international traveling exhibition of Chinese abstractart", OCT contemporary art terminal of He Xiangnin museum, Shenzhen, China
- "Art from China – Collection Uli Sigg", Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- "The Year of the Golden Pig – Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection", Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College, Cork, Ireland
- "White Out", Künstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis, Bregenz, Austria / Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken, Saarbrücken, Germany
- "The Sublime is Now", Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf, Switzerland
- 2006 "Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung Sigg”, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
- 2005 “PICTORIAL DNA made in China”, Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland
- "Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung Sigg“, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland
- "CHINA: as seen BY CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ARTISTS", Provincia di Milano, Spazio Oberdan, Italy
- 2004 Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China
- Le Printemps de Chine", CRAC Alsace, France
- 2003 New Zone – Chinese Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland
- Einbildung – Das Wahmehmen in der Kunst, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria
- 2002 China – Tradition und Moderne, Ludwig Galerie Schloss Oberhausen, Germany
- Welcome China !, Gallery Soardi, Nice, France
- 2001 The Inward Eye: Transcendence in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Texas, US
- 2nd Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany
- 2000 Our Chinese Friends, ACC Gallery Weimar & Galerie the Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany
- 1999 d'APERTutto, 48th La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
- Natural Reality, Forum Ludwig, Aachen, Germany
- 1998 Eight Chinese Artists, Asian Fine Art Gallery, Berlin, Germany
- 1996 China, Bonn, Vienna, Singapore, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Berlin, Germany
- 23rd International Biennale, São Paulo, Brazil (As a special guest)
- Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany
- 1995 China's New Art Post-1989, US
- 1992 The First Annual Exhibition of Chinese Oil Painting, Hong Kong, China
- 1986 Chinese Art Festival, organized by La Défense in Paris, France
- Qiu Shihua, from a text supplied to the author in January 2005.
- Nataline Colonnello, “The Image as an Epiphany: On the Paintings of Qiu Shihua,” on the website of Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 22, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2010. (accessed March 29, 2005).
- Fibicher, B., Frehner, M. (Eds.) (2005). Mahjong. Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz. p. 240
- Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing - Lucerne - Artists
- Vine, R. New china new art. Prestel USA, 2008, p. 207.
- GEORGE, CHAMBERS. "Insight: Paintings by Qiu Shihua". Chambers Fine Art. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Qiu Shihua". China Square. Retrieved 26 April 2012.