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Chambers Fine Art: Mochou :Recent works by Qiu Zhijie - 12 Mar 2009 to 9 May 2009

Current Exhibition

12 Mar 2009 to 9 May 2009
Hours : Tuesday - Saturday, 10 - 6
Chambers Fine Art
210 Eleventh Avenue, 4th Fl
New York, NY
New York
North America
p: 1 (212) 414-1169
f: 1 (212) 414-1192

Mochou :Recent works by Qiu Zhijie
Chambers Fine Art, New York
March 12 - May 9, 2009
Web Links

Artist Links

Artists in this exhibition: Qiu Zhijie

Christophe Mao
cordially invites you to a reception and private viewing of

Recent works by Qiu Zhijie

Thursday, March 12, 6-8pm
March 12 - May 9, 2009

Chambers Fine Art New York is pleased to announce the opening on March 5, 2009 of Mochou by Qiu Zhijie, his second exhibition at the gallery following The Shape of Time: Light Calli-photography by Qiu Zhijie in 2006. The new series of ink drawings on paper are associated with the artist’s ongoing investigation of the history of Nanjing and in particular the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, inaugurated in 1968 and regarded as a great triumph of Chinese power and resourcefulness.

In recent years Qiu Zhijie has been focusing on projects that require extensive travel and documentation in association with the production of works of art in a variety of media. Beginning with his association with the first phase of the Long March Project, continuing with his epic journey from Lhasa to Khatmandu in the footsteps of Nain Singh and now with his deep involvement with the city of Nanjing, Qiu Zhijie has embarked on an ambitious cultural voyage, investigating aspects of Chinese history and culture as they impinge on life today. Most ambitious by far is A Suicidology of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, the title for an ongoing project involving documentation, research and social activism (in this case, working with a suicide-prevention squad) in association with the production of works of art in many media. Mochou is affiliated with Qiu Zhijie’s Gesamtkunstwerk though in an indirect way.

His association with Nanjing began in 2005 when he curated Archaeology of the Future, the second Nanjing Triennial. From the second half of 2007, he began to focus on the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge and in particular the relationship between this potent symbol and the high rate of suicides that occur there. Research and documentation led to a wide range of artistic productions, including a group of editioned prints and unique works on paper made at Singapore Tyler Print Institute and an installation and a series of large works on paper exhibited at Chambers Fine Art Beijing last year..

Loosely connected with this constantly evolving and progressively more complex project are works that respond in a poetic and allusive way to legends associated with Nanjing and traditional Chinese themes. Among these is the legend of Mochou, a young girl who lived in the Qin Dynasty, who was so poor that she had to sell herself to pay for her father’s funeral. Deeply unhappy in her marriage, she committed suicide in the lake that now bears her name and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nanjing.

The oblique approach Qiu Zhijie adopted for the treatment of the Mochou theme in the Beijing installation was developed in the remarkable series of ink paintings exhibited in Beijing and New York that mostly depart from familiar Chinese sayings and proverbs. Working in an almost trance-like state and using every graphic and painterly means at his disposal, Qiu Zhijie finds visual equivalents for all the elements in these frequently cryptic sayings. Having established his reputation as one of the leading experimental artists in China in the last fifteen years, Qiu Zhijie has returned to the most traditional of all Chinese media while introducing an unprecedented and frequently unsettling thematic content. By focusing on the bridge which is such a potent symbol of China’s emerging power and related themes from China’s past such as Mochou and related themes, Qiu Zhijie explores themes such as time, memory and destiny, issues that have always been central to his interests in whatever medium he worked.

Chambers Fine Art New York: an exhibition that nearly did not happen
Mochou:Recent Works by Qiu Zhijie
March 12 – May 9, 2009

Scheduled to open at Chambers Fine Art New York on March 12, 2009 Mochou: recent works by Qiu Zhijie is an exhibition that nearly did not happen. During the preparations for the current exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing – Qiu Zhijie: Breaking through the Ice – Qiu Zhijie began working on a series of fourteen paintings in ink on paper related to a series of larger works on the same theme exhibited at Chambers Fine Art Beijing in 2008. Well known as an artist who thrives on challenges, this exhibition was more than he bargained for.

The works arrived at JFK on March 5 but on March 11 the works had not yet been released by US Customs, making it likely that the exhibition opening would indeed be a “failure,” the theme underlying the full range of works related to the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge and the related Mochou legends. Fortunately Qiu Zhijie had arrived in New York on March 10 and responding to the desperate situation, agreed to paint directly on the gallery walls. In the morning brushes and ink were purchased in Chinatown and during frequent breaks for smoking on the steps outside the gallery building, he drew a series of very rough sketches for the three walls and one partial wall of the gallery. Beginning at 3pm on March 11, he worked continuously without sleeping for the next twenty hours, putting the finishing touches and adding inscriptions around 11am the day of the opening. Then he crashed and nearly missed the opening later in the day.

The resulting wall-paintings are an extraordinary accomplishment, among the best works of this prolific and highly inventive artist. Whether linked by formal similarities or playful analogies, the isolated objects and larger groupings in the wall-paintings frequently reference classical Chinese themes and imagery. He also incorporated a number of objects that had caught his eye during the twenty–four largely sleepless hours he had so far spent in New York (a conch-shell in the apartment where he was staying, straws that accompanied cold drinks purchased at a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown). Further personal references were added to the free-wheeling imagery on the wall, notably the hand of his recently born daughter opening a classic Chinese text Image of the World next to the gallery entrance.

Having worked in the full range of media available to the artist today including video, installation and performance for most of his career, Qiu Zhijie had mostly relegated his skills as a painter and calligrapher to a background role. Faced with this challenge, however, he pulled out all the stops, rediscovering skills and techniques that had been latent for many years. When it is increasingly common for successful artists to work with large numbers of assistants, Qiu Zhijie shows that there is no substitute for the intimate relationship between the hand of the artist and the materials he is using.

Strategically placed on the walls are Xeroxes of the paintings exhibited in Beijing and the fourteen works still with US Customs. The wall paintings will be on display until May 9, at which time they will be painted over.

For further information, please contact the gallery at 212.414.1169 or

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