a r t c r i t i c a l . c o m


Qiu Shi-hua

New York Kunstalle
210 East 5th Street, Third Floor,
New York NY 10003, New York NY 10011

May 5-18, Tuesday-Saturday 10-6pm

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.

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May 2001

Interactive Review

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