China's Qiu Zhijie holds court

Published Thu, Jan 2, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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ONE of the biggest names to present works at Art Stage must be China's Qiu Zhijie. The highly regarded artist was once described by critic Karen Smith as the "intellectual dynamo of the contemporary art world in China". Popular among collectors, his works run the gamut from photography and video to calligraphy and sculpture. They often make profound statements about China as it evolves into a mature industrial society.

In the famous Tattoo photo series, for instance, Qiu painted negative symbols and characters on his body to show how, in a media-saturated age, "signs and codes have overpowered actual human beings, and our bodies have become merely their vehicles," he says. His provocative yet elegant works are sought after and exhibited by top museums and galleries around the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum of London and the Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

Having practised art since the 1990s, Qui has witnessed the phenomenal growth of Chinese art since it exploded on the international auction scene in 2006. The 44-year-old recalls: "Many years ago, there wasn't any audience interested in what I was doing, and I was not the target of investment. At that time I knew that I was working more for myself, on a more spiritual level, and all the works at the time, I felt I had to do them. If I could not do them publicly, then I would do so privately."

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