David Cohen writes:
Elusive enough in the flesh, the landscape-inspired minimalist
paintings of Qiu Shi-hua completely defy photographic reproduction.
So you have to take my word for it. They must be seen!
In the last decade sixty year-old Qiu has begun to enjoy an
international reputation, beginning with a solo exhibition at
the Alliance Francaise in Hong Kong. He has been given shows
at the Kunsthalle in Basel and Harald Szeeman allocated him
a room at the Venice Biennale. Earlier in his career, the artist
was a victim of the Cultural Revolution. He was a cinema poster
designer exiled to a remote farming collective. He now lives
in Shenzhen, the commercial city that borders Hong Kong. Remarkably,
this current show is his first in the United States.
At first sight, his work seems to belong to that modern western
idiom, the minimalist monochrome. But given time and the calm
and centeredness that must have gone into their making (the
artist reputedly practices Tao meditation as part of the creative
process) the paintings reveal sharply observed references to,
and intense though understated experience of, landscape. A few
subtle stains suddenly come into focus as a Monet-like row of
poplars. Despite the initial resemblance to minimalist art,
the visual experience is much closer to looking at traditional
chinese scroll paintings, although these are in fact oil on
canvas and are not calligraphic. It seems as if the image has
been breathed onto the canvas. Or else they put the viewer in
mind of under exposed film.
These exqiusite works are seen to perfect advantage in natural
light, so take advantage of this perfect New York spring and
get to the Kunsthalle while show and weather last. Martin Kunz's
Kunsthalle, incidentally, a legendary East Village venue in
the 1980s, is enjoying a renaissance. The former Beethoven Hall
is one of the hidden treasures of New York.
do you think?
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