Qu grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and spent some time forced in to hard labour as his parents were branded capitalists . Later, he served as an art director at China Central Television.
In 1979, as one of the founding members of the avant-garde "Stars Group", together with, Wang Keping, Ma De Sheng, 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. His paintings were exhibited at a solo display in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford in 2005, the first time in the Ashmolean that a show was devoted singly to the work of a living artist. He has also had a solo exhibition at Beijings National Gallery and his works have been exhibited and collected worldwide and by museums including the British Museum and the V&A in London. His work at the British museum is now part of their permanent collection and this was marked with a symposium about himself and the Stars movement and his work
- Yung Chang. (1996) Preface to A Visual Diary Archived October 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. 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:
|date=(help), p. 60
- 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 Archived October 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. chinese-embassy.org.uk. Retrieved 19/03/08.
- Asian Nouveau. (May 24, 2005) New work by Qu Lei Lei at the Ashmolean Archived September 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. asiannouveau.com. Retrieved 19/03/08.
- Arts Council England. (2005) 2005 finalists: Pearl Award for Creative Excellence Archived October 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. 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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