Qiu Ruixiang | Groping in the Dark
Qiu Ruixiang’s painting style and the visual forms achieved are steeped in the indexical language of his immediate cultural framework; not “China” in the formal sense of national identity, but that of the specific experience of China’s rural north-west, his native Shaanxi province. Here, in Qiu Ruixiang’s painting this is a sense of history deeply infused in the soil, as picked up on by Beijing-based Zhao Gang whilst driving across Shaanxi to absorb inspiration for the monumental painting titled The Party that he produced for our first “About Painting” exhibition in 2014. This exhibition was also a modest debut for Qiu Ruixiang.
Following OCAT Xi’an’s mission to give emerging artists a first institutional show in China – previous examples being Li Ran, Liang Yuanwei and Qin Jin – this year’s debut artist is Qiu Ruixiang, an obvious choice for representing the aesthetic essence of the cultural framework into which OCAT Xi’an has sought to put down roots. Through painting, Qiu Ruixiang gives voice to the emotions and conditions of social existence he has observed all his life. The aura is predominantly ethereal. We never see his subject’s features clearly enough to think of them as an individual we might recognise in the street. Instead, he presents figurative archetypes to embody holistic sensations and states of being. At times, these figures are imbued with a certain shamanistic quality, especially relevant where shamanism is defined as a means of “exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness in order to accomplish specific purposes: healing, divination, and communication with the spirit realm.” Qiu Ruixiang’s archetype here is his grandmother, revered as the village shaman.
Importantly, Qiu Ruixiang’s paintings draw upon human experience in such a way as to transcend the immediate time and place. They are of this time and, yet, timeless. Still, the paintings do speak of the prevailing zeitgeist: the uncertainty which suffuses this era and that sends people in search of spiritual comfort is the very essence of this work.
About the Artist
Qiu Ruixiang was born in Shaanxi in 1980. He graduated from Oil Painting Department of Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts in 2003. Currently, he lives and works in Xi’an. His work has been the subject of three solo exhibitions in Platform China Contemporary Art Institute: “Qiu Ruixiang: Rabbit, Den and Barn”, 2017; “Qiu Ruixiang Solo Exhibition”, 2015; “Portrait of Self”, 2014; “Untitled”, Fun Art Space, Beijing. “Groping in the Dark” is Qiu Ruixiang’s first museum show.